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.

A bike rental scheme in Paris that began seven years ago has been such a success, the city has launched a version for children. Parents can now rent bikes for tots up to 8 years old at locations across the city.

Officials say the program won't cost Paris a cent and might help build a new generation of environmentally conscious citizens — or perhaps inspire a few future Tour de France champions.

A vigilante attack against a Roma teenager has shocked France and put pressure on the French government to improve conditions for the ethnic minority. Human rights advocates say the rise of a xenophobic climate in the country may have contributed to the attack.

The French rail strike has enters it second week and train workers have clashed with riot police in Paris. The latest poll shows the striking train drivers are losing public support.

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And I'm Steve Inskeep. The sky over Normandy is brilliant blue on this June 6. It is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. That's the 1944 Allied invasion across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It was such a risky enterprise in World War II, that General Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a letter in case it failed, saying the blame is mine alone.

Germaine and Lucien Rigault, 86 and 89 years old, respectively, lean out their first-floor window, watching people go by. They were here in the tiny French hamlet of La Cambe on June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Normandy and began the liberation of France and Europe from Nazi control during World War II.

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Far-right political parties won big in European parliamentary elections in many countries last weekend. Their victory was particularly painful in France, a founding member of the European Union, and has deepened the sense of crisis for the very unpopular Socialist president, Francois Hollande. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris.

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Somewhere in Paris, railways executives must be cursing in French. They ordered $4 billion worth of new trains. Turns out the trains are be too big to fit in many French train stations around the countries. Sacre bleu.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.

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ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Gleaming trains from across France pull into this Paris station. The decade-long modernization and expansion program is designed to handle the huge rise in passenger traffic across France.

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And in Europe, Google is under increasing attack. A consortium of European digital companies has brought charges against the American Internet search giant for behaving like a monopoly. A ruling by the European Court of Justice could force Google to remove certain Web links from its search engine.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sends this report from Paris.

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French President Francois Hollande says that for now, France intends to go through with a deal to build two warships for the Russian navy. The first of the Mistral-class assault vessels is supposed to be delivered in October.

The $1.6 billion deal is the biggest sale to Russia ever by a NATO country. And three years ago, when the contract was signed, French officials hailed it as a sign that Moscow should be considered a partner, not an enemy. Still, there were critics among NATO allies even then.

Decked out in red, white and blue clothing, and waving flags and banners, thousands of supporters of the far-right National Front party marched through central Paris on Thursday — known as May Day or International Workers Day — to hear charismatic leader Marine Le Pen. The traditional gathering began, as always, at a gilded statue of Joan of Arc, where Le Pen laid a wreath.

Bearing messages ranging from the inspiring to the insipid, "love locks" can be found clamped onto bridges in major cities around the world. But no place has it worse than Paris, where the padlocks cover old bridges in a kind of urban barnacle, climbing up every free surface.

Take the Pont des Arts, Paris' most famous footbridge across the Seine river. Hundreds of thousands of padlocks cover its old iron railings; the light of day barely passes through them.

Early Thursday morning, the Ukrainian military moved into towns held by militants. Firefights and casualties have been reported at a number of different locations.

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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned today that his country would respond if its citizens or interests came under attack in Ukraine. The warning came as the interim Ukrainian government ordered a new offensive against pro-Moscow militants occupying government buildings across Eastern Ukraine. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Donetsk.

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Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia today that it must join in efforts to reduce tensions in Ukraine. Biden was in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, and it looks like last week's international agreement to disarm militant groups in that country is failing. Ukrainian president says the security service will resume an anti-terrorist operation following the discovery of two bodies in eastern Ukraine. The operation had been suspended after the agreement in Geneva.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us from Donetsk.

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The killing of three people at a checkpoint in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk has increased tension in the town, where a government building is being occupied by pro-Moscow militants.

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In the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the opposing camps seem increasingly entrenched, despite a diplomatic effort to ease tensions. Pro-Russian forces refuse to leave occupied buildings and public squares in the east. It's an uneasy Easter weekend and neither side is willing to budge.

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On some French trains, the conductor's whistle signals more than just a departure. For commuters traveling on an express train from Reims to Paris — a 90-mile, 45-minute ride — it means the beginning of English class.

"Before the course, we were sleeping in the train in the morning," says passenger-student Gilles Hallais. "So I prefer practicing English."

Hallais, 44, is a journalist at French public radio. He says while he doesn't need English for his work, he does need it for his life. "I think it could be a handicap if I don't speak fluent English."

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Voters in Paris go to the polls Sunday to elect a new mayor. And for the first time in its long history, the city will have a woman at the helm. Despite the historical significance, the race has failed to spark much enthusiasm among voters. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has more.

Ukrainians in Kiev are debating if the Russian military buildup on the border between the two countries is just saber rattling or the precursor to a second incursion.

Since the upheaval in Ukraine began four months ago, the number of kidnappings of journalists and activists has been on the rise, though they've always been part of the Ukrainian political landscape.

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Crimea is a poor region, heavily subsidized by Kiev, and gets all its gas, water and food from Ukraine. Russia doesn't even have a land link with the Crimean peninsula and absorbing it will affect banks, schools, tourism and pensions for residents.

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Now, Russia's actions are being celebrated in Crimea. Many people there are excited about the idea of joining Russia. The emotion is much more downtrodden in the capital, Kiev, where there's a feeling of loss setting in.

And here's Eleanor Beardsley is there.

The Ukrainian parliament has voted to mobilize 40,000 reservists as Kiev tries to beef up its military following the referendum in Crimea.

Crimeans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Morning Edition checks in with NPR's Gregory Warner in Simferopol and Eleanor Beardsley in Kiev for the latest.

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