Shrouded in mystery, the French Foreign Legion has cultivated a reputation for being as feared by its enemies as it is envied by its allies. The Legionnaires come from across the world to serve a country that is not their own. Far from home, they are told the Legion is their homeland. Who are these soldiers and what motivates them to serve in the French Army?

France 24 reporters, Claire Paccalin and Fanny Allard, spoke to Legionnaires from the 13th DBLE at their barracks in France and in Mali where they are part of Operation Barkhane, France’s counter-extremism operation in the Sahel.

Scroll down for the full report, extra interview footage, a Legionnaire’s French lesson and tips for filming in the desert.