Beyond its reputation of the French Foreign Legion as an elite unit often embroiled in serious fighting, its recruitment practices have also led to a romantic view of it being a place for a wronged man to leave behind his old life to start a new one, yet also being full of scoundrels and men escaping justice. This view of the legion is common in literature, and has been used for dramatic effect in many films, not the least of which are the several versions of Beau Geste.
There is a French song originally created by Marie Dubas in 1936 but now mainly identified with Édith Piaf, called "Mon légionnaire", about a woman's longing for an embittered Legionnaire with whom she had a brief affair and who refused to tell her his name. The song was reprised by Serge Gainsbourg in the 1980s, the male voice singing the lyrics made famous by Piaf. The new version of "Mon Légionnaire" was a hit on French dancefloors.
Another of Piaf's songs was "Le Fanion de la Légion" (The Flag of the Legion), describing the heroic defence by the garrison in a small Legion outpost attacked by Saharan tribes. Both songs were written by Raymond Asso, a Foreign Legion veteran who was Piaf's lover in the late 1930s, with music by Marguerite Monnot.
The Legion adopted still another Édith Piaf song as their own, "Non, je ne regrette rien" (No, I regret nothing), during the 1950s when members of the Legion were accused of being......