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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Some European Muslims have been heading to Syria to join the fight alongside jihadist who were trying to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict has been going on for more than three years and many Europeans are now fearful that those fighters may return to carry out attacks at home. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley tells us about that concern in France.

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.

During my many visits to Normandy, I have come across many French people committed to preserving the memory of the young men who sacrificed their lives here to liberate the continent from Nazi tyranny. On my latest, trip, I met up again with Joseph Delecolle, who I had interviewed at the 60th D-Day anniversary in 2004.

Delecolle was back, dressed as before in the uniform of an American GI and driving his rebuilt, 1940s-era American jeep.

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

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

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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.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRAIN WHISTLE)

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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