The vineyard is run by ex-legionnaire Guy Gerard who spent 25 years fighting in Africa and most of the men working the vines are between 50 and 70 years old.
The estate was purchased in 1953 to shelter the Legion’s war wounded and elderly former fighters. The Institution des Invalides de la Legion Etrangère is based on one of the sacred tenets of the Legion: Tu n’abandonnes jamais les tiens, ni au combat ni dans la vie — you never abandon one of your own, neither in battle nor in life – maybe the UK should take a leaf out of the Legion’s book.
Many of the old soldiers who live there have no homes nor family and are either disabled or find settling back into civilian life difficult. The Legion takes good care of its own and provides work and shelter for their veterans.
The wines have been described by Lieutenant-Colonel Xavier Lantaires as
“Strong when attacked, solid on the onslaught, full of grapeshot on the front line.”
The Legion was established in 1831, by King Louis Philippe as foreigners were forbidden to serve in the French Army after the 1830 July Revolution. The Legion was stationed in Algeria and was primarily used to protect and expand the French Colonial Empire but it also fought in the Franco-Prussian War and both World Wars.
Today, the 7699 legionnaires from 136 different countries are engaged in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Chad, the Ivory Coast . They also took part in relief efforts in South Asia after the December 2004 tsunami and when President Jacques Chirac volunteered to send French troops to help rebuild Lebanon after the war between Israel and Hezbollah, Legion engineers were the first to reconstruct destroyed bridges.
In the course of its history, 35,000 Legionnaires have been killed in battle or during service to the organization.