Sunday, April 30, 2006


The Foreign Legion

Ask anyone who doesn't visit Corsica to say what he knows about the island and the odds are you'll get an answer like "Well, Napoleon came from Corsica, and the Foreign Legion are based there."

The French Foreign Legion do indeed have a strong presence on the Island. Any time of the year, any day of the week, you are likely to see strapping young men striding about Calvi in carefully pressed uniforms. They are polite, neat young men who despite their reputation for efficiency and ferocity, don't cause any trouble here as far as I'm aware. You see them in the supermarkets, in the launderettes, and occasionally in restaurants and bars. The severity of the training they receive is apparent from the bulging muscles under their neatly ironed shirts.

One of our close neighbours here is the Legion's Parachute Regiment. Occasionally, tourists will be amazed to see their planes take off from Catalina Airport and drop lines of their boys a dozen at a time into the training ground - it makes a rather special sight as you laze on one of the beaches in the Bay of Calvi.

It's more reassuring than the other airborne sight you sometimes witness from the same viewpoint: seaplanes collecting seawater to bomb forest fires in the interior.

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