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.

Pages

Animals
6:00 am
Sun February 9, 2014

France Takes A Stand, Crushing Ivory Beneath The Eiffel Tower

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 9:44 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR NEW. I'm Rachel Martin.

This past week, France became the first European country to destroy illegal ivory in a high profile public demonstration. It did so underneath the Eiffel Tower as part of a global effort to call attention to the illicit ivory trade. Officials say the trade not only wipes out the world's population of elephants, it also funds terrorism.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has the story.

Read more
Europe
2:52 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Comedian Runs Afoul Of France's Strict Laws On Hate Speech

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 4:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

French police raided the Paris offices and home of a controversial comedian today. The comedian is known by his stage name of Dieudonne, he's been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks during his performances, although he denies that. The French government has banned his current show, sparking a debate in France about the limits of free speech.

More from Paris and from NPR's Eleanor Beardsley.

Read more
Europe
2:43 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Musical Theater Takes The Stage In Paris

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 3:32 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

To see a musical, you might travel to New York or even to London, but Paris? Aside from the language barrier, musicals have always been considered silly by French standards and not widely embraced, but that is changing. As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, Parisians have been enjoying a string of musical theater performances at one of the city's venerable theaters.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Read more
Africa
3:12 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

On Third Anniversary, Tunisians May Get A Constitution

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Arab Spring that brought those changes to Egypt began in Tunisia, exactly three years ago today. Tunisians overthrew their dictator, prompting a wave of uprisings across the region. But three years on, lawmakers are still struggling to ratify a new constitution and lay the foundations of their country's future. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is in Tunis and sent this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Read more
Africa
4:38 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Is This Arab Spring Country Finally Getting It Right?

Tunisians wave their national flag and shout slogans on Tuesday in the capital, Tunis, as they attend a rally marking the third anniversary of the uprising that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Fethi Belaid AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 3:28 pm

Tunisia — the country that launched the Arab uprisings — is celebrating the third anniversary of its revolution Tuesday.

Since the departure of Tunisia's dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, there's been a struggle between religious and secular forces, which has been the case in other Arab Spring countries.

Read more
Middle East
7:56 am
Sun January 12, 2014

New Constitution Is A Sign Of Tunisia's Optimism

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 9:41 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

On Tuesday, Tunisia will celebrate the third anniversary of its revolution. Tunisia is the country that inspired uprisings across the Arab world. Since then, that country has gone through tough times but it seems to have found its way again. Opposing sides have drafted the new constitution together. It will be ready in a couple days, and new elections are set for this year. That sets Tunisia apart from neighboring Egypt and Libya, where the Arab Spring uprisings have brought violence and political upheaval.

Read more
Europe
1:37 am
Thu January 9, 2014

No Rain On His Parade: Parisian Preserves Art Of Umbrella Repair

An estimated 15 million umbrellas are thrown away in France each year. Thierry Millet is trying to change that, one umbrella repair at a time.
Lejeune Maxppp /Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:21 am

When an umbrella breaks, most people just throw it away — and pick up another one, from a street vendor or maybe a drugstore.

But what if you got it repaired instead? Would you even be able to find someone who could do the work?

In Paris, it's still possible, but just barely. What was once a thriving profession has dwindled dramatically. These days, Thierry Millet, 58, says he is the city's last umbrella repairman.

Read more
Media
1:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

In Troubled Magazine World, 'La Hulotte' Is One Rare Bird

Pierre Deom has been writing and illustrating La Hulotte since 1972. He released his 100th issue (lower right) in November.
Francois Nascimbeni AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 9:42 am

The journalism world may be in crisis, but one magazine in France has been steadily gaining subscribers for 40 years. It's a nature journal called La Hulotte, and twice a year it focuses on an animal or plant indigenous to the French countryside. The magazine published its 100th issue in November. It has more than 150,000 subscribers in many countries and is doing terrific financially.

Read more
Deceptive Cadence
12:03 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Chopin's Favorite Piano Factory Plays Its Final Chord

The Pleyel piano factory, which once supplied instruments to Frederic Chopin, will close its doors at the end of the year.
Francois Guillot AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 1:47 pm

One of the world's oldest and most iconic piano makers, Pleyel, will close its factory doors in Paris at the end of 2013.

The French press characterized the bankruptcy as inevitable in the face of cheaper competition from China. But many disagree: They say Pleyel could have survived by adapting better to the times.

Read more
Europe
6:23 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Why French Troops Are Intervening In Africa — Again

A French soldier talks to a crowd outside a church in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, on Thursday.
Jerome Delay AP

Originally published on Sun December 15, 2013 12:19 pm

Once again, French television screens are full of images of joyous Africans welcoming French troops.

In January, the French military intervened in Mali to help liberate large swaths of the country from radical jihadists. Now, for the second time this year, France has sent troops into an African country to quell violence.

Last week, French soldiers went into the Central African Republic to stop sectarian killings. In news reports from the Central African Republic, crowds yell, "Vive la France!" as they run out to greet convoys of French soldiers.

Read more
Art & Design
3:47 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Royal Gardener Planted The Seed Of Urban Planning At Versailles

Andre Le Notre pumped in water from the Seine River to create the Grand Canal at Chateau of Versailles.
Boris Horvat AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:45 am

France's Chateau of Versailles has pulled out all the stops for one of its favorite sons, gardener Andre Le Notre, who designed the palace's famous gardens. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Le Notre's birth, several of the garden's fountains are being restored and the chateau is hosting an exhibit on his life through February 2014.

Experts say Le Notre's work was so groundbreaking, it continues to influence contemporary urban architecture.

'The Interlocutor Of Kings'

Read more
Africa
4:07 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Memory Of Mandela Hangs Heavy At African Leaders' Summit

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 5:35 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Dozens of African leaders received word of Nelson Mandela's death yesterday as they gathered in Paris for a two-day summit. The goal was to promote peace and security across Africa. At the top of the agenda, the troubled Central African Republic not at risk of genocide. Nelson Mandela's death now overshadows the gathering. As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, it's made Africa's leaders more determined to make progress.

Read more
Business
2:33 am
Fri November 22, 2013

As Inequality Grows, Swiss To Vote On Curbing Executive Pay

Members of the Swiss trade union Unia, supporting a referendum to limit the pay of executives to 12 times that of a company's lowest-paid employee, demonstrate in Zurich in August.
Arnd Wiegmann Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 10:12 am

Switzerland may be known for watches, wealth and secretive bank accounts, but increasingly people believe that not everyone is reaping their share of the country's economic well-being.

So on Sunday, the Swiss will vote on a referendum that would limit a CEO's pay to 12 times that of the company's lowest-paid worker.

The youth wing of the Social Democratic Party collected the 100,000 signatures necessary to turn the measure, known as the 1:12 initiative, into a national referendum.

Read more
Parallels
12:58 am
Fri November 15, 2013

In France, Some Ask If Racism Is On The Rise

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has been the object of several racist taunts since she defended the government's gay marriage bill in parliament this spring. She is shown here at the Socialist Party's "Universite d'ete" in La Rochelle, in August.
Stephane Mahe Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 7:07 pm

For the past week or so, France has been deep in debate, wondering if there's a resurgence of an old colonial racism, or if people have just become more tolerant of bigots.

The questions stem from a series of race-based taunts against Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is black. Many of the statements seem to stem from Taubira's championing of the country's gay marriage legalization, which was signed into law in May.

Read more
Parallels
2:51 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Will The French Really Pay More for 'Made in France'?

French Minister for Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg attends the Made in France fair in Paris on Saturday. According to a poll, more than 70 percent of the French say they would pay more for goods made at home.
Alain Jocard AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 pm

The French economy suffers from many ailments: weak growth, high unemployment, poor competitiveness and a general sense of economic gloom. And every proposed government remedy seems to be met by protests from one corner or another.

Yet no one seems to be arguing with a little injection of economic patriotism.

Read more
Parallels
3:28 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

France Rethinks The Sanctity Of Its Day Of Rest

A woman walks amid both open and closed shops during a Sunday morning stroll at the Butte Montmartre in Paris, in July. Under France's Byzantine rules on Sunday trading, shops at the top of the hill are in a designated tourist area and so can open, but those at the bottom cannot.
Christian Hartmann Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 6:34 pm

There's a fight going on for the soul of France. Since 1906, Sunday has been deemed a collective day of rest in the country, and French law only allows stores to open on Sundays under very specific conditions — for example, if they're in a high tourist area. Sunday work is also tightly controlled.

But some people are questioning the sense of such a tradition in a languishing economy and 24/7 world.

Read more
Parallels
1:00 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 12:56 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.

Read more
Parallels
3:05 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 5:55 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.

Read more
Parallels
3:25 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Paris' Traffic-Cutting Gamble Charms Pedestrians, Irks Drivers

Parisians and tourists sit at a cafe along the Seine River. The mayor of Paris recently closed down a major highway along the river to open it up for pedestrians.
Christophe Morin Landov

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 5:51 pm

In a daring gamble, the mayor of Paris recently shut off a major vehicle thoroughfare through the city, the highway along the Seine River.

The move is part of his plan to reduce traffic in the city. The new space delighted Parisians and tourists this summer, but many wonder if it'll be such a hot idea during the cold winter months.

Read more
Europe
2:11 am
Wed October 16, 2013

U.S. Default Would Have Adverse Effect On Europe's Recovery

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 3:58 am

The possibility of an American default on its debt is huge news across the continent. Europe is barely emerging from its own debt crisis. Europe's recovery rests on demand for its exports and the U.S. is by far the European Union's largest export market.

Media
2:21 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)

Read more
Europe
3:12 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Tragedy Prompts Calls For Change To EU Immigration Policies

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 6:32 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Countries in Europe have been struggling for some time to find a fair balance when it comes to immigration, and those efforts took on more urgency last week. A ship packed with African migrants sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Hundreds of people drowned, including children and pregnant women. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley begins her report with a reminder that this incident at sea was sadly, not anything new.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Help, help. Don't move.

Read more
The Salt
1:35 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 9:32 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.

Read more
Europe
1:59 am
Thu September 19, 2013

France Moves To Ban Kids Under 16 From Beauty Pageants

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 7:44 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)

Read more
Animals
3:47 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 6:00 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.

Read more
Technology
5:00 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 11:25 am

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.

Read more
Race
2:53 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Paris Has Been A Haven For African Americans Escaping Racism

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
4:58 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

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.

Read more
Parallels
1:04 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Sun, Sand And The Seine: The Beach Comes To Paris

People enjoy the sun next to Pont Neuf bridge as "Paris Plage, or Paris Beach, opens along the banks of the Seine river in Paris, on July 20. The annual free event brings a half-mile of beach into the heart of the French capital.
Christian Hartmann Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 3:48 pm

It's a hot day in Paris and kids run in and out of giant sprinklers set up on the banks of the Seine river not far from Notre Dame cathedral at a place called Paris Beach, or Paris Plage.

Among the wet, excited children are the Obadjia sisters — 4-year-old Judith and 7-year-old Eve. The girls say they come to this magic place every year with their mother and brother, crossing town in a bus to get here.

"I love Paris Plage because we can watch the boats go by," says Judith.

"And when it's hot we can cool off here in the sprinklers," adds big sister Eve.

Read more
Business
3:21 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Eurozone Shows Signs Of Economic Improvement

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 7:16 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with growth in the eurozone.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It looks like Europe's long recession is finally over. Statistics out this morning shows signs of growth across the eurozone after a year and a half of declining numbers.

GREENE: It will take time and stronger growth to reverse the high unemployment of many countries but politicians are hailing the figures as an end to the dark years.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sent this report.

Read more

Pages