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.

NPR Paris correspondent Eleanor Beardsley was on assignment in Calais, France, and sends this postcard about conditions at the migrant camp known as "The Jungle."

The Jungle, that squalid camp where migrants live in the rough in the dunes of Calais, has transformed. I was there about five months ago, and I found it a sad, scary place. Since then, the makeshift camp's numbers have tripled to about 6,000 people, and I expected to find even more misery.

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And let's bring in another voice here. It is our colleague, Eleanor Beardsley, who has covered recent events in Tunisia. Eleanor, good morning.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

Riad Sattouf is half-Syrian and half-French and grew up in the Middle East in the late 1970s and 1980s. He lives in France now, but tapped into his youth for his graphic novel, The Arab of the Future, that explores life under Arab dictatorships a generation ago.

His book is already a best-seller in France and is coming out in English in the U.S. this month. I met the cartoonist at his Paris publisher with a copy of the English edition of his book under my arm. It's his first glimpse of it and he's thrilled.

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The Frankfurt Auto Show is a car lover's paradise. You're plunged into a world of gleaming new cars and cutting edge technology. You'd think it would be the perfect place to get the scoop on the Volkswagen scandal.

But no one working for Volkswagen, Porsche or Audi will talk about it all. Still, regular Germans are ready to open up. Michael Kornath says his VW car happens to be one of the 8 million vehicles with the emissions evading device attached to its diesel motor.

"And I talked with them, 'What shall I do now?' " he says, "And they say wait."

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Ferenc Gyurcsany is busy chopping onions and carrots to throw into a pot of boiling lentils. It's not your typical Hungarian breakfast, but he wants his house guests to feel at home.

Several dozen migrants, including mothers holding babies, relax in the sun at outdoor picnic tables at a retreat facility near the town of Cergy-Pontoise. The vacation center, about an hour north of Paris in a bucolic lake setting, usually hosts school groups or corporate workers. But for the next few months it will be home to about 200 people who have fled war in Syria and Iraq.

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Consumption of rosé wine is skyrocketing. U.S. imports of rosé from the Mediterranean region have grown in the double digits for the past 10 years running. This is good news for winemakers in the southern, Provence region of France, where many vintners used to make a few bottles of rosé only for themselves. Not anymore.

The Blanc brothers, Didier and Robert, are third-generation vintners near the town of Uzes, in southern France. The area is known for chirping cicadas, olive trees and chilled rosé wine in the summertime.

In a bid to cut down on bureaucracy, the mayor of Paris has scrapped an arcane law that required bakers to inform city hall anytime they wanted to close up shop.

When the measure was passed by the Assemblee Nationale, or French parliament, in 1790, lawmakers wanted to make sure certain situations never repeated themselves. A long-term bread shortage, for example, was one of the factors that led to the 1789 French revolution, according to Stephanie Paul, a historian and Paris tour guide.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: We learn to make a "counterfeit" version of duck confit, a classic French dish that traditionally can take days to prepare.

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The U.S. and Europe are in the midst of negotiating a historic trade deal that will create the world's largest consumer market: some 800 million people. Despite promises that the agreement will create thousands of new jobs, there's fierce resistance to it in Europe, especially when it comes to food.

Many Europeans say they want to preserve a way of life and eating that they say America's industrial farming and multinational corporations threaten. A smaller version of that battle is being fought in one Paris neighborhood known as "the belly of Paris."

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For the past several years, the group Coexister has been going into secular French schools to break down religious stereotypes in the classroom.

Since January's attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, the demand for their interventions has skyrocketed.

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Tens of thousands of people have been gathering in the Belgian countryside over the last week to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. The bloody battle of June 18, 1815, marked the final defeat for Napoleon at the hands of a coalition of his enemies. The re-enactment is attracting history buffs, tourists and wannabe soldiers.

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Reforming the education system in any country can be tricky. But in France, where learning is highly centralized and public school (l'ecole de la Republique) a symbol of French greatness, it's all but impossible.

Several French presidents have tried and failed. President Francois Hollande's second attempt has traditionalists up in arms and critics on the right and left screaming that French schools are being dumbed down.

Teachers, students and some parents took to the streets of cities across the country recently to denounce the government's project.

May in France is known as the Swiss cheese month because of all the holiday holes in it. There are four national holidays and thus four long weekends. May 1 was the May Day workers' fete, May 8 marked the World War II victory in Europe, and there are two others I'll get to in a moment.

Instead of enjoying the long weekends, I find myself struggling to cope. I imagine working parents in Boston felt this way about snow days this past winter. Paris doesn't get buried in snow. But the holidays — and the school days off — are relentless.

Not far from the glitzy Mediterranean film festival venue of Cannes lies another town with a connection to cinema. There are no stars or red carpet, but La Ciotat has an even longer relationship with film, and boasts the world's oldest surviving movie theater.

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