Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in June 2004, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy.

Beardsley has covered both 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections as well as the Arab Spring in Tunisia, where she witnessed the overthrow of the autocratic President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. She reported on the riots in French suburbs in 2005 and the massive student demonstrations in 2006. Beardsley has followed the Tour de France cycling race and been back to her old stomping ground — Kosovo — to report for NPR on three separate occasions.

Prior to moving to Paris, Beardsley worked for three years with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. She also worked as a television producer for French broadcaster TF1 in Washington, DC and as a staff assistant to Senator Strom Thurmond.

Reporting from France for Beardsley is the fulfillment of a lifelong passion for the French language and culture. At the age of 10 she began learning French by reading the Asterix The Gaul comic book series with her father.

While she came to the field of radio journalism relatively late in her career, Beardsley says her varied background, studies and travels prepared her for the job as well as any journalism school. "I love reporting on the French because there are so many stereotypes about them that exist in America," she says. "Sometimes it's fun to dispel the false notions and show a different side of the French. And sometimes the old stereotypes do hold up. But whether Americans love or hate France and the French, they're always interested!"

A native of South Carolina, Beardsley has a Bachelor of Arts in European history and French from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and a Masters Degree in International Business from the University of South Carolina.

Beardsley is interested in politics, travel and observing foreign cultures. Her favorite cities are Paris and Istanbul.

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Parallels
3:00 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Camus' Stance On Algeria Still Stokes Debate In France

Algeria-born Albert Camus poses for a portrait in Paris following the announcement that he is being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957. Camus' views on his birthplace still stoke controversy.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 2:56 pm

A hundred years after his birth, French writer-philosopher Albert Camus is perhaps best-remembered for novels like The Stranger and The Plague, and for his philosophy of absurdism.

But it's another aspect of his intellectual body of work that's under scrutiny as France marks the Camus centennial: his views about his native Algeria.

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Parallels
4:09 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Little 'Libraires' That Could: French Law Would Keep Amazon At Bay

France's government has taken legal steps to protect the country's independent booksellers from behemoths like Amazon. It already prohibits discounts of more than 5 percent on books. Now it's considering a law that would not allow online retailers like Amazon to offer both a 5 percent discount and free shipping.
Christine Zenino Flickr

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 7:55 pm

Last year, the U.S. government took Apple to court, charging that the company illegally drove up the price of e-books. This summer, Apple lost the case.

In France, just the opposite is happening. The French government has accused Amazon of trying to push the price of physical books too low.

Limiting discounts on books is one of the ways that France is trying to ensure the survival of its independent booksellers.

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Media
4:21 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Readers Lament 'International Herald Tribune' Name Change

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The International Herald Tribune is about to change its name. In these difficult days for print journalism, fans of the Paris-based English newspaper are grateful that it's still being published. But the change is prompting a good bit of nostalgia.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris explains why.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

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The Salt
3:35 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Got Baguettes? Bakers' Lobby Tells France To Eat More Bread

Baguettes head into a giant oven at Le Grenier a Pain Bakery.
Eleanor Beardsley NPR

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 11:32 am

The French, it seems, aren't eating bread the way they used to. The average French person consumes just half a baguette a day, down from a full baguette 40 years ago.

Those statistics worry the French bakers' lobby, the Observatoire du Pain.

Bernard Vallius, who heads the group, says it used to be that people ate a sit-down lunch and dinner with family or friends every day. Now people — especially the young and those who live in cities — eat sandwiches or skip lunch altogether and snack, he says.

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Europe
3:59 am
Thu September 19, 2013

France Moves To Ban Kids Under 16 From Beauty Pageants

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 9:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The French Senate voted to ban beauty pageants for children under 16. The measure is part of a larger bill on women's rights.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that lawmakers see this move as a way to protect the young from being sexualized.

(SOUNDBITE OF A DOCUMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (French spoken)

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Animals
5:47 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

In France's Camargue, Bulls Are A Passion And A Way Of Life

The black, long-horned Camargue bull is just one of two breeds of fighting bulls in Europe. The bulls are shown here at the Roman arena in Arles, southern France.
Eleanor Beardsley NPR

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 8:00 pm

Amid streaks of lightning and startling thunder claps on a recent day, I head out into the middle of the marshy wetlands known as the Camargue. I'm with a group of tourists, piled on hay bales in the back of a flatbed trailer pulled by a massive tractor.

The delta in southern France where two branches of the Rhone River meet the sea, the Camargue is the biggest Mediterranean delta after the Nile. The stunning ecosystem is home to pink flamingos, rice paddies and salt, which has been harvested here since the Middle Ages.

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Technology
7:00 am
Sat September 14, 2013

New Computer School Makes French Students Teach Themselves

Xavier Niel, the French Internet billionaire and founder of the Internet provider Free, reacts after delivering his speech in January 2012. Niel has founded a new computer school in Paris named 42.
Jacques Brinon AP

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 1:25 pm

A new computer school in Paris has been overwhelmed by some 60,000 applicants.

The school, called 42, was founded by a telecom magnate who says the French education system is failing young people. His aim is to reduce France's shortage in computer programmers while giving those who've fallen by the wayside a new chance.

In the hallways of 42, suitcases and sleeping bags are piled, and people are stretched out on mattresses in some of the corners. There are showers and dozens of colorful bath towels.

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Race
4:45 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Paris Has Been A Haven For African Americans Escaping Racism

Originally published on Mon September 2, 2013 4:53 am

The City Of Lights became known as a beacon of freedom and tolerance for African Americans. Paris is rich in black history — especially from black Americans who have flocked there since the 19th century.

Europe
6:37 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Relying On Old Artisan Ways, French Brand Makes Itself Anew

Moynat was renowned for products such as the lightweight wicker trunk named Malle Anglaise, or English trunk, which was invented in 1873. This trunk was subsequently improved and a new patent filed in 1889.
Courtesy of Moynat

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 6:58 pm

Founded in the mid-19th century, French luxury leather goods maker Moynat became renowned for making traveling trunks for the moneyed set. Though a pioneer in its field, it fell on hard times and closed its doors in the 1970s.

These days, the fabled company is undergoing a resurrection — turning out limited quantities of luxurious, handmade bags that rely on centuries-old craftsmanship.

On a recent day, Moynat's CEO, Guillaume Davin, leads me up the back stairs of the company's flagship boutique in Paris.

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Europe
3:17 am
Thu August 8, 2013

How Gaul-ing! Celebrating France's First Resistance Fighter

Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, is a national hero in France, where he is admired for his fight against invading Romans, despite his ultimate defeat.
Kevin Beesley NPR

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 9:33 pm

Every summer, a village in eastern France celebrates a Gallic chieftain who lost a major battle to Julius Caesar in 52 B.C. Despite that defeat, the mythic Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, is a French national hero today.

But Vercingetorix wasn't always remembered with such fanfare: For 2,000 years, he lay nearly forgotten.

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Parallels
5:32 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

'Burqa Ban' Sparks Another Round Of Clashes In France

A Muslim woman walks in a Paris suburb where protesters clashed with police over the weekend. The demonstrators oppose the way the police have enforced a ban on Islamic face veils. Five people were injured and six detained in the unrest.
Olivier Corsan Maxppp/Landov

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 9:02 pm

France's ban on face coverings — the so-called burqa ban — has been the law since 2011, but it's still a sensitive topic.

The latest round of unrest began Friday when police officers asked a woman wearing a head-to-toe veil to lift the garment and show her face.

Authorities say the woman's husband attacked the police officer. Muslim groups say the police were disrespectful. The man was eventually arrested, which sparked protests that degenerated into violence.

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Sports
5:45 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Tour De France Racers Want To Leave Shadow Of Doping Behind

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 6:00 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

After three weeks and more than 2,000 miles, the Tour de France finishes up on Sunday in Paris. The race is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It's also the first year in many that no former winners are suspected of doping. Seven-time tour winner Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping this past spring, ending a years-long saga.

But even after all that, doping is probably not fini - as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris.

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The Salt
5:21 am
Sat June 1, 2013

France Sells Presidential Wines To Update Palace Wine Cellar

French President Francois Hollande's palace has decided to dive into its wine cellar and sell some of its treasures to raise money and replenish its collection with more modest vintages. About 1,200 bottles, a 10th of the Elysee's wine collection, are being sold at the Drouot auction house in Paris this week.
Jacques Brinon AP

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 3:46 pm

Prized Burgundies and Bordeaux once served at the presidential palace in France were sold for the first time ever as the wine cellar at Elysee Palace gets an overhaul.

Some 1,200 bottles, or 10 percent of the palace wines, went on sale this week at the famous Drouot auction house in downtown Paris. On the block were vintages from 1930 to 1990, including famous names such as Chateau Latour, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Montrachet.

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Parallels
2:10 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

Let Them Eat Grass: Paris Employs Sheep As Eco-Mowers

Sheep used to replace gas-guzzling lawn mowers graze at a truck warehouse at Evry, south of Paris.
Francois Mori AP

Originally published on Mon May 27, 2013 6:02 pm

City officials in Paris are experimenting with an unconventional way to keep urban lawns trimmed.

Agnes Masson used to be simply the director of the Paris city archives. Now, she's also a shepherdess of sorts, responsible for four black sheep munching the lush grass surrounding the gray archives building at the eastern edge of the city.

Masson says the ewes are efficient and easy to care for.

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Europe
4:47 am
Mon May 27, 2013

France Pays Tribute To Early U.S. Fighter Pilots

A memorial outside Paris honors members of the Lafayette Squadron, which was started by a group of young American men in 1914 who wanted to fight for France when World War I broke out. The U.S. had not yet entered the war.
Eleanor Beardsley NPR

Originally published on Mon May 27, 2013 8:47 am

Every Memorial Day weekend, a ceremony takes place just outside Paris to honor a group of Americans who fought in France. They're not D-Day veterans, but a little known group of pilots who fought for France in World War I, before the U.S. entered the war.

This year's ceremony in the tiny town of Marnes-la-Coquette began with a flyover by two French air force Mirage fighter jets from the Escadrille Lafayette, or Lafayette Squadron, paying tribute to the men who founded the group nearly 100 years ago.

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Parallels
5:28 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

An Ancient Religious Pilgrimage That Now Draws The Secular

A pilgrim walks the Way of St. James outside Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain, on July 21, 2010. The ancient religious pilgrimage is also attracting the nonreligious these days.
Miguel Riopa AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 9:00 pm

A 1,200-year old European pilgrimage route is experiencing a revival. Last year alone, some 200,000 followed in the footsteps of their medieval forebears on the Way of St. James, making their way some 750 miles from Paris across France to the Spanish coastal city of Santiago de Compostela, and the relics of the eponymous apostle.

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Europe
11:37 am
Wed May 8, 2013

In France, A Renewed Push To Return Art Looted By Nazis

A photo taken by the Nazis during World War II shows a room filled with stolen art at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris. Using improved technology and the Internet, the French government is making a renewed push to track down the rightful owners of art looted by the Nazis.
Courtesy of Archives des Musees Nationaux A Paris

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 9:55 pm

During World War II, the Nazis plundered tens of thousands of works of art from the private collections of European Jews, many living in France. About 75 percent of the artwork that came back to France from Germany at the end of the war has been returned to their rightful owners.

But there are still approximately 2,000 art objects that remain unclaimed. The French government has now begun one of its most extensive efforts ever to find the heirs and return the art.

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World
3:57 pm
Sat April 27, 2013

Bombing Suspects' Chechen Roots Weigh Heavy On Nation' Refugees

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 5:01 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Tsarnaev brothers are among tens of thousands of Chechens whose families have sought asylum abroad after two brutal wars with Russia. About 10 percent of the entire Chechen population now lives in Europe. France has one of the largest communities. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley spoke with Chechens in Paris to see how they're reacting to the attack in Boston.

AICHAT: (Foreign language spoken)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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World
4:04 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Routine On U.S. Racetracks, Horse Doping Is Banned In Europe

French jockey Olivier Peslier celebrates a win at Longchamps racecourse near Paris in 2012. While many drugs can legally be used on horses in U.S. racing, they are barred in Europe.
Fred Dufour AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 8:30 pm

At the famous Hippodrome de Longchamp just outside of Paris this month, crowds came to cheer and bet on the sleek thoroughbreds that opened horse racing season by galloping down the verdant turf course.

Horse racing in Europe is different from the sport in the U.S., from the shape and surface of the track to race distances and the season itself. Another big difference is doping.

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Europe
12:19 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

U.S. Boss Offers Blunt Critique; French Workers Give Fiery Response

French workers burn tires outside the Goodyear tire factory in Amiens, France, on Tuesday, after Titan CEO Maurice Taylor criticized French workers in a letter addressed to Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg.
Eleanor Beardsley NPR

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 8:01 pm

The battle between an American capitalist and a French socialist official has prompted chuckles — and heated debate — on both sides of the Atlantic. The exchange highlights some humorous stereotypes and reveals real differences between the economic cultures of France and the United States.

A leaked letter from Maurice Taylor, CEO of the Illinois-based Titan tire company, ignited the controversy. In it, Taylor, regarded by the French as a hardcore capitalist, addressed Arnaud Montebourg, France's flamboyant, leftist industrial renewal minister.

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Africa
5:47 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

In Algeria, Sahara Attack Revives A Fear Of Renewed Terrorism

Algerian police stop cars at a checkpoint in In Amenas, deep in the Sahara near the Libyan border, on Jan. 18. Islamists took hostages at a nearby gas field in a major international incident.
Farouk Batiche AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 10:30 am

When Muslim extremists overran an oil and gas facility in Algeria's Sahara desert last month, Algerians saw the drama through the lens of their own painful history.

The news that terrorists had seized the In Amenas oil and gas plant stunned people in Algiers, the Algerian capital, who thought they'd seen the last of such attacks.

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Africa
3:40 am
Wed February 13, 2013

A Murder Deepens Tunisia's Political Crisis

Tunisian soldiers stand guard as a woman holds up a poster featuring opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession in a suburb of Tunis on Feb. 8. Belaid's assassination has laid bare the political rifts in post-revolutionary Tunisia.
Fethi Belaid AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 6:24 am

The political crisis in Tunisia is deepening after last week's murder of a prominent secular politician. Tunisians are increasingly divided over their country's government and future, just two years after collectively overthrowing the dictator in a popular revolution.

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World
12:28 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Chaos Follows Funeral For Slain Leader In Tunisia

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We want to go live now to the nation of Tunisia, where tens of thousands of people turned out today for the funeral of an assassinated opposition leader. Political tensions turned violent as young men clashed with police. The scene was a reminder of the precariousness of the situation in Tunisia - two years after the Arab Spring revolution began there. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley was at the funeral and joins me on the line. And Eleanor, what was the scene at this funeral? What did you see?

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Technology
4:32 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

French Twitter Lawsuit Pits Free Speech Against Hate Speech

A wave of racist tweets prompted a Jewish student organization to file a lawsuit asking the American company Twitter to reveal the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. Twitter says data on users is collected and stocked in California, where French law cannot be applied.
Lionel Bonaventure AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 8:48 pm

A French judge will decide this week if Twitter must hand over the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. The case, brought against Twitter by a Jewish student organization, pits America's free speech guarantees against Europe's laws banning hate speech.

The controversy began in October, when the French Union of Jewish Students threatened to sue Twitter to get the names of people posting anti-Semitic tweets with the hashtag #unbonjuif, or "a good Jew."

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Africa
4:57 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Algeria Hostage-Taking Could Be Retaliation For France's Actions In Mali

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:16 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Algerian Islamists attacked an oil and gas field at dawn this morning in the desert on the border with Libya. They claim to have taken nearly 200 people hostage. In addition to Algerians, they claim to hold seven Americans, as well as French, British and Japanese citizens.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris reports the hostage-taking appears to be the first act of retaliation for France's actions in Mali.

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Africa
5:47 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

France To Send More Troops To Mali To Combat Islamist Militants

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 8:22 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The French defense minister says France is preparing for a possible land assault in Mali, so it plans to increase its troop levels to 2,500. Back home in France, authorities are girding for possible terrorist attacks in response to their intervention. Eleanor Beardsley has that story from Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (French spoken)

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Europe
6:53 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Competitive Advantage Could Force French Labor Changes

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 7:56 am

French President Francois Hollande has vowed to improve his country's competitiveness. But to better compete, France has to overhaul its labor market, and some hard-earned workers' rights and privileges could be lost.

Europe
5:22 am
Sat December 29, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage And Adoption: Unresolved Issues In France

A man wears a costume reading "Dad" and "Mom" during a demonstration against gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Nice, France, in October.
Valery Hache AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 8:14 pm

France is known as a tolerant country on many social issues, yet the country is embroiled in a debate about same-sex marriage and adoption.

President Francois Hollande is following through on a campaign promise to bring full rights to gay couples. France legalized civil unions more than a decade ago, though same-sex couples must still go abroad to marry or adopt.

But opposition to Hollande's measure has been unexpectedly fierce, something the Socialist government wasn't expecting.

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World
2:59 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Gerard Depardieu's Tax Flight Stirs Fierce Debate In France

French actor Gerard Depardieu speaks outside Paris in March. He recently said he was moving to neighboring Belgium to avoid France's new top tax rate of 75 percent. The news ignited a debate in France over taxes and patriotism.
Lionel Bonaventure AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 11:02 pm

Gerard Depardieu, one of France's most iconic and beloved film stars, is now at the center of a national uproar over French taxes and patriotism.

Depardieu, who has been in around 200 films, says he's moving to Belgium to avoid paying a new 75 percent tax on the superwealthy. The move has divided the country and has focused attention on the Socialist government's controversial new tax policy.

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Europe
3:25 am
Thu December 20, 2012

In A French Village, Protection From The Apocalypse

Doomsayers claim the French village of Bugarach, population 200, will be spared when the world supposedly ends Friday.
Guillaume Horcajuelo EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 11:37 am

Friday is the last day of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar, sparking talk about the possible end of the world. About two years ago, a rumor began circulating on the Internet that the French village of Bugarach, population 200, would be the only place to survive this apocalypse.

But despite many news stories of people flocking to the village, less than two weeks before "doomsday," there was no one on the streets. Houses were shuttered against the cold.

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