Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in June 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture, and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.

Beardsley has been an active part of NPR's coverage of the two waves of terrorist attacks in Paris and in Brussels. She has also followed the migrant crisis, traveling to meet and report on arriving refugees in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Sweden, and France. She has also travelled to Ukraine, including the flashpoint eastern city of Donetsk, to report on the war there, and to Athens, to follow the Greek debt crisis.

In 2011 Beardsley covered the first Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia, where she witnessed the overthrow of the autocratic President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Since then she has returned to the North African country many times to follow its progress on the road to democracy.

In France, Beardsley covered both 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections. She also 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 Gallic character. 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 master's 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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Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson showed up at the French Parliament Tuesday to speak out for animal rights. A French congresswoman is trying to put an end to what critics call a cruel practice to animals. It also happens to be central to one of France's most cherished culinary delicacies: foie gras.

Anderson said she was following the example of Brigitte Bardot, another sex-symbol-turned-animal-rights-activist. As a young girl, Anderson said, she was inspired when Bardot visited Canada in the '70s to condemn the slaughter-by-clubbing of baby seals.

A debate is raging in France over whether Jewish men should avoid wearing the traditional yarmulke, so as not to identify themselves at a time of increasing violence by young radical Islamists. The proposal was put forth this week by a Jewish leader in Marseille, following a knife attack on a local Jewish teacher.

Zvi Ammar, head of Marseille's 60,000-strong Jewish community, suggested it might be better if Jews in Marseille stopped wearing the yarmulke, also known as a kippah.

"For the time being," Ammar said, "at least until these barbarians calm down."

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One year ago, gunmen stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and began a three-day killing spree that would claim 17 lives. Ten months later, in November, armed Islamist radicals struck the city again, killing scores at cafes and a concert hall.

In 2015, we saw the most deadly attacks on French soil since World War II. President Francois Hollande says France is at war. His country, which has long stood for individual freedom, is trying to balance that freedom with the need for security.

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In November, after coordinated terrorist attacks killed 130 people in Paris, informal memorials began to grow on the streets of France's capitol city. Outside the sites of the attack, mourners left flowers, cards, candles, poems, signs.

Six weeks later, people are still paying their respects. And their tributes may live on: the City of Paris plans to archive thousands of notes and drawings from the unofficial memorials.

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The terrorist attacks in Paris this year — in January and November — were both carried out by French citizens who became Islamist radicals. The phenomenon of home-grown terrorism first came to light here three years ago, when a French citizen of Algerian descent killed a teacher and three children at a Jewish school and three French soldiers in a rampage in southwestern France.

The Moroccan-born mother of one of those soldiers, who was Muslim, has led a personal battle ever since.

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