Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 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.

In France, Beardsley has covered three presidential elections including the surprising upset of outsider Emmanuel Macron in 2017. Less than two years later, Macron's presidency was severely tested by France's Yellow vest movement, which Beardsley followed closely.

Beardsley especially enjoys historical topics and has covered several anniversaries of the Normandy D-day invasion as well as the centennial of World War I.

In sports, Beardsley has followed the Tour de France cycling race, she covered the 2014 European soccer cup and she will follow the Women's World Soccer Cup held in France in June 2019.

Prior to moving to Paris, Beardsley worked for three years with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. She also worked as a television news producer for French broadcaster TF1 in Washington, DC, and as a staff assistant to South Carolina 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. "I love reporting on the French because there are so many stereotypes about them 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, South Carolina, 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.

On a sunny weekend in mid-March, just a couple of days before President Emmanuel Macron put France in lockdown to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, 32-year-old Daphné Rousseau was outside Paris, enjoying lunch in the countryside with a group of friends.

When French President Emmanuel Macron addressed his countrymen this week to tell them they would have to stay inside another month, national media regarded his speech as raking in the highest TV audience ratings the country had ever seen.

Commander in Chief Macron now seems to have the attention and respect of much of the nation. What a difference a year — and a pandemic — makes.

On Wednesday, the first anniversary of the devastating fire that ripped through Notre Dame, the famous 17th century bell in the cathedral's south tower, known as "le bourdon," rang out at 8 p.m.

Brice de Malherbe, a priest at Notre Dame, came out on the warm, sunny evening to listen to the bell toll for the first time since the fire.

"My feeling today is mainly hope because the cathedral is still there," he said. "We don't have the blazing flames we had a year ago. Of course, the cathedral is hurt, but it seems nearly serene."

With France, like much of the world, in lockdown because of the coronavirus, the country's Christians will not be able to gather in churches to celebrate Easter this year.

But the archbishop of Paris says he wants to send a strong signal of hope to the faithful by holding a small Good Friday ceremony amid the rubble inside Notre Dame, and beaming it out to the world.

Paris baker Tony Doré pulls a rack of toasted, golden baguettes from the oven. He says he's baking them all day long to keep his customers supplied.

"Every day, so many people thank me for staying open," he says. "If the bakeries started closing, people would be unnerved. In France, we eat bread at every meal. It's a tradition. We cannot go without good bread."

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