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French Legionnaires Open Their Doors

Library image ~ the flag of 1er Régiment Étrangèr is presented during the Camerone Day ceremony in Fort de Nogent in Paris [© Yves Debay †]

The legionnaires of Fort de Nogent open their doors to the public on April 30 and May 1, 2023, on the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Camerone.


Press Release, Fontenay-sous-Bois, 17 April 2023: [auto-translated] The legionnaires of the Fort of Nogent-sur-Marne open their doors to the public on April 30 and May 1, 2023, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 160th anniversary of the Camerone battle.

Camerone, feast of the Foreign Legion: The Battle of Camerone was a battle between a company of the Foreign Legion and Mexican troops on April 30, 1863 during the Mexico expedition. About sixty besieged legionnaires in a village hacienda resisted, for more than a day, the assault of 2000 Mexican soldiers. Camerone is celebrated each year by the white kepis as the symbol of fidelity to the word given.

Fort de Nogent, Foreign Legion recruiters : The legionnaires have been established at Fort de Nogent for 60 years. Their mission today is to recruit candidates from 150 different countries. Every year, 6,000 volunteers present themselves in front of the gates of the fort, 1600 of them will join the ranks of this elite troop.

Doors open to the public: For two days, the public will be able to meet the legionnaires within the fortifcation. This year’s theme: ‘Monsieur Legionnaire’; the opportunity to pay tribute to these men coming from all walks of life to join the ranks of the Foreign Legion and serve France. After the military ceremony, on April 30 at 10:30 a.m., the fair will open its doors for a great festive day with the family. Demonstrations, commando courses, rides and attractions: there will be something for everyone. The first day will end with the traditional election of Miss Képi Blanc, followed by the Legionnaire’s ball from 8:15 p.m. and until 2 a.m. At 11 a.m. on1st May the doors of the fair will reopen until 9 p.m. with the highlight of the draw for the raffle at 5:30 p.m. (one hundred prizes to be won).

A burger menu by Thierry Marx: Between the Foreign Legion and the starred French chef specialising in molecular cuisine, it’s a common story that has been going on for years. Sponsor of the Recruitment Group of the Foreign Legion since 2012, Thierry Marx renews his support for the legionnaires for this year 2023. He will once again propose a formula in honour of the White Kepis. On the menu: gourmet burger accompanied by a pastry and a craft and organic beer, all for only €12 (the children’s version will include organic apple juice). All proceeds will be donated to Legionnaire Mutual Aid which covers, among other things, support for bereaved families, the injured and assistance to former legionnaires.

  • The Foreign Legion is a combat force composed of nearly 9,000 men, it represents 11% of the operational strength of the French Army. The Foreign Legion is a human exception, since more than 140 nationalities rub shoulders there. Legionaries serve under the status of a so-called foreign contract and are commanded almost exclusively by French officers. Since 1831, the Legion has been an elite troop of the French Army. It is involved in all external operations as well as internal missions of protection of the national territory.


Editor’s Footnote: Our late colleague Yves Debay regularly attended Camerone Day commemorations and should have been at the 150th in 2013… but regrettably he was assassinated while on assignment in Syria just three months before. Several representatives from The Legion attended his funeral service at Boulogne-Billancourt and laid wreaths.

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