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.

In a first for Europe, 20 critically ill coronavirus patients were evacuated aboard a fully medicalized, high-speed train.

The patients were transferred from the hard-hit eastern region of France, where hospitals are operating at overcapacity, to the western Loire Valley, where facilities still have plenty of beds.

In a chalet in Chamonix, in the French Alps, 73-year-old Danièle Enoch-Maillard waits out the coronavirus epidemic — and thinks of her father.

He also took refuge not far from here, in the village of Notre Dame de Bellecombe, though at a different time and for entirely different reasons.

"My father survived the Second World War because he was able to hide out in the high mountains only a couple kilometers from where I am now," she tells NPR by phone.

The largest-ever collection of works by Leonardo da Vinci is drawing record crowds at the Louvre in Paris this year, the 500th anniversary of the artist's death. The Louvre has brought together more than 100 paintings, drawings and manuscripts for the exhibition, which opened in October and will end in February.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

In France, climate change is already affecting one of the country's most emblematic industries — winemaking. French vintners say heat, drought and erratic weather are altering the landscape and their centuries-old way of working.

Brothers Remi and Gregoire Couppé are fourth-generation winemakers who craft a top vintage, grand cru St. Emilion. In the past few years they've been confronted with some new challenges. Remi Couppé, 44, says there's no denying the weather is getting hotter and drier.

In France, McDonald's is often a symbol of everything that's despised about American capitalism and fast-food culture. One Paris neighborhood battled for years to keep the golden arches from settling in between its traditional butchers and bakers (it eventually lost). And the actions of an anti-globalization farmer named José Bové, who tried to dismantle a McDonald's 20 years ago, are legendary.

But for the last year, a group of McDonald's employees in the southern French city of Marseille has been fighting to save its McDonald's restaurant.

Jacques René Chirac, a champion of Europe and fierce opponent of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, has died. The former two-term president was 86.

Chirac spent half a century in the public eye. Before he was president of France, he was the mayor of Paris. He also served two terms as prime minister and represented his rural district in the French Parliament for nearly 30 years.

"My countrymen, I love France passionately and have put my whole heart, energy and force into serving her and you," Chirac said when he left office in 2007. "It has been the engagement of a lifetime."

A little over three months after Paris' Notre Dame caught fire, French officials say the cathedral is still in a precarious state and needs to be stabilized. Ultimately, they aim to restore the monument, a process that will take years.

When that work begins, there will be a new demand for experts who have the same skills required to build Notre Dame 900 years ago. In the workshops of the Hector Guimard high school, less than three miles from the cathedral, young stone carvers are training for that task.

For much of his life, Ray Lambert wouldn't talk about World War II. But then the 98-year-old veteran army medic began returning to Normandy, where, on June 6, 1944, he led a unit of medics as a 24-year-old staff sergeant in the allied invasion of western Europe.

"I realized that if I didn't tell these stories about my men, that they couldn't do it," he says. "I felt it my responsibility and obligation to them to talk to people and tell people about the war and what they did."

As a budding young soprano in the 1990s, Anne-Sophie Schmidt was selected to sing the lead role in an opera conducted by the renowned Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit and the National Orchestra of France. It was a great honor to work with Dutoit, she says.

But then the harassment started.

After one concert, Schmidt says, Dutoit pushed her up against a wall and forcibly kissed and groped her.

Why would a wildlife conservation organization be involved in a campaign to push people to diversify their diets? As it turns out, the way we humans eat is very much linked to preserving wildlife — and many other issues.

France has been shocked by incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in the last couple weeks, including 80 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery painted with graffiti and swastikas earlier this month.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said France and other Western democracies are experiencing a "resurgence of anti-Semitism unseen since World War II."

Stung by criticism, and with his government rocked by ongoing protests from yellow vest demonstrators, French President Emmanuel Macron last month launched a nationwide series of community conversations — what his government calls a grand debat national or "great national debate." Since mid-January, groups of mayors, local leaders and ordinary citizens have been meeting to hear and respond to complaints, grievances and suggestions.

Hanni Weissenberg, now Hanni Lévy, survived as a Jew in Nazi Germany.

Today, the petite and lively 94-year-old lives in Paris. Earlier this month, she returned to Berlin, her home during the war years, to attend the screening of a film about her and other Jews who survived while hiding under the noses of the Nazis.

The Invisibles, a German documentary-drama based on the accounts of four survivors, opened Friday in the U.S.

In the film, Lévy is depicted first at age 17, sitting in her Berlin apartment in 1943, with the Gestapo pounding on the door.

At a traffic circle outside the northern French town of Rouen, a couple of dozen protesters gather every day, building a bonfire and occasionally blocking traffic. The threat of arrest doesn't keep them away. Au contraire, says protester Frederic Bard; the nationwide movement called the gilets jaunes, or yellow vests, feels pretty powerful.

"The media are all talking about us, and we actually made the government back down," he says. "We're not about to accept the crumbs Macron has thrown us."

The French government is hoping Saturday's "yellow vest" protests were the last. The movement, named for the fluorescent safety vests worn by demonstrators, is not only the country's biggest social and political crisis in 50 years, but, according to many analysts, a very threat to French democracy. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has called for national unity and said, "It's time to stop the fighting and begin the dialogue."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Bells toll at the abbey where Dom Perignon is buried in the French region of Champagne. The Benedictine monk is said to have discovered the method for turning wine into champagne here more than 300 years ago.

As far as the eye can see, neat rows of vines look as if they're stitched across the rolling hillsides.

Mick Jagger and David Bowie gushed over her. Bob Dylan composed a poem about her and refused to continue playing during one Paris concert unless she was in the audience and visited him backstage. Francoise Hardy is a 1960s French pop icon who more than 50 years later is still making music. At the age of 74, she's not slowing down yet. Hardy has released her 28th album. Hardy's latest work, Personne d'Autre, available now, is the artist's best-selling album yet, coming close to Gold status in France.

Around the world, people are struggling for access to drinking water. All Things Considered is examining the forces at play in separating the haves from the have-nots — from natural disasters to crumbling infrastructure and corruption.

There's a distinct sound to summertime in Switzerland. I first heard it driving up a winding mountain road at night. A curious tinkling sound was coming from the darkness around me. It got louder and closer, until I realized it was the clanging of cow bells in the surrounding pastures.

I knew the month was going to be a wash after just two phone calls. It was early August and I had returned to Paris from my vacation in the U.S., energized and ready to start working on stories again. But my first two calls for interviews were met with the same recording: "We are away on vacation and the office is closed. We'll be back Aug. 30."

Ah, Paris in August.

French butchers say they're under threat from militant vegans. And they've asked the French government for protection. What's at stake, say butchers, is not just the right to eat meat — but a way of life.

Didier and Sandrine Tass run their butcher shop on a busy street in Paris' 15th arrondissement. They've been here for 19 years. They know all their customers and discuss growing children and family vacations as they serve them. The Tasses say it's a great livelihood. But these days, the butcher and his wife are nervous about threats from militant vegans.

Sometimes a high school history project ends up making history. That's what happened when a 16-year-old Nebraska student decided to participate in the National History Day project in 2015.

Partly due to her research, the bodies of two American twin brothers, separated at death during World War II, were finally reunited.

A Paris concert that's still months away is generating controversy. Muslim rapper Médine is scheduled to play at the Bataclan, the concert hall where 89 people were killed by Islamist extremists in a terrorist attack two and a half years ago.

As France competes in the World Cup, the makeup of the team is bringing some positive attention to some French who have been struggling with poverty and low expectations. Several team members are from "les banlieues," the mainly nonwhite working-class suburbs that surround many major cities such as Paris, Lyon and Marseilles.

In March 1968, a journalist from France's Le Monde newspaper claimed that the French were too bored to take part in the upheaval that had begun sweeping other countries that year. There was peace and prosperity in France. But there was also an entrenched, patriarchal society led by a deeply conservative president, Charles de Gaulle, who in 1968 had already been in power for 10 years. And there was a generation of young people yearning for greater freedom.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In late March, thousands of people took to the streets of Paris to protest the murder of an elderly woman whose killers may have been motivated by anti-Semitism. The silent march started at Place de la Nation and ended at 85-year-old Mireille Knoll's apartment in a working-class neighborhood in the east of the city. That's where her partially charred body was found with stab wounds on March 23.

Our Take A Number series is exploring problems around the world through the lens of a single number. Today's number is 81, which is how many French schools a journalist visited to teach kids about disinformation on the Internet.

As the bell rings, students file into class at Maxence Van der Meersch middle school. This morning the kids have a visitor — investigative journalist Thomas Huchon.

Without telling them the topic of his visit, Huchon says he's going to show them a mini-documentary.

Patrick Desbois, a Roman Catholic priest, has spent the last 15 years investigating and uncovering the details of Nazi massacres across Eastern Europe and Russia, crimes known as the "Holocaust by bullets."

During World War II, the Nazis killed some 1.5 million Jews and Roma across the Soviet Union. While the Nazi death camps are well documented, much less has been known about the systematic murdering of Jews in what are today Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and other countries.

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