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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Art & Design
4:47 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 9:45 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'

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Parallels
1:57 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 8:07 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.

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Parallels
3:36 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 7:34 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.

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Parallels
2:00 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 1:56 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
3:09 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 6:55 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
3:21 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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Animals
4:37 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 7:00 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
6:00 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 12:25 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
3:53 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
5:39 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 5:58 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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