Eleanor Beardsley | New Hampshire Public Radio

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 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 traveled 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 win by 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 closely covered the Women's World Soccer Cup held in France in June 2019 (and won by Team USA!) and regularly follows the Tour de France cycling race.

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, D.C., and as a staff assistant to South Carolina Sen. 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.

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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.

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Paris came up with a new answer to an old problem. Parisians rank this particular problem as one of the city's worst, although many do not like the mayor's solution. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley investigates.

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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.

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.

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One of the fashion world's most famous designers has died. Hubert de Givenchy styled some of the world's most fashionable women, icons like Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco. NPR's Paris correspondent Eleanor Beardsley has more on his legacy.

Every morning at a supermarket called Auchan in central Paris, Magdalena Dos Santos has a rendezvous with Ahmed "Doudou" Djerbrani, a driver from the French food bank.

Dos Santos, who runs the deli section of the store, is in charge of supervising the store's food donations. She sets aside prepared dishes that are nearing their expiration date.

Opening a giant fridge, Dos Santos shows what else the store is giving away – yogurt, pizza, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheese.

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The city of Paris does not exactly have a business-friendly reputation. Strikes, red tape and a rigid labor market have seen to that. But things are changing. France now has a young, pro-business president. And across the city there's a growing climate of capitalist optimism.

A renovated 1920s train station in the middle of Paris is now a modern hub for startups. Newly elected President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated Station F last June, but the hub was actually conceived before he was elected.

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Some people in France say it's time to set a minimum age for sexual consent. France has no minimum. And court cases involving older men preying on minors have prompted a demand for a clear legal framework. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.

A park guard blows his whistle to warn the gates will soon close at Parc Andre Citroen, which lies along the Seine River in the west of Paris. But before the park shuts for the night, a handful of people, including artist Florian Roblain, are gathered around the water fountain filling their containers.

"I'm filling up my bottles with sparkling water," says Roblain. "Sometimes people have 10 bottles. It's ecological and of course, cheap. When you come twice a week, if you've got children, you become used to it. It's a rhythm; it's part of your life."

In the early morning hours inside a cozy Paris boulangerie, big batter-mixing machines are kneading dough for the flaky breakfast pastry that has become a symbol of good French eating. Baker Frederic Pichard says it's no secret how to make a good croissant.

"It takes savoir-faire and of course milk, sugar, eggs and flour," says Pichard. "But the key ingredient is butter. Out of the eight kilograms of dough here, three kilos are butter. More than a third of croissants are made of butter."

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A guide unlocks a heavy wooden door and leads visitors down into a Bordeaux chateau wine cellar. Along the vast network of underground rooms and corridors, thousands of bottles age for decades in the cool darkness.

Today, many of the tourists visiting this French wine making region are Chinese.

Retired couple Wang Jiawei and Cao Juanjuan are visiting Europe for the first time. They are traveling to London and Paris, but say Bordeaux is also a must see.

This time of year, the stands at Paris' hundreds of weekly food markets are laden with plump, dark grapes and wild mushrooms. Wild game often hangs from hooks above.

Of all the seasons to visit Paris, food lovers say the best time is autumn.

"The fall is the best time to eat in France," says longtime Paris resident and culinary historian David Downie. "Everyone knows that. It's when everything comes in. It's the harvest season."

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It's a summer evening on the French Atlantic island of Noirmoutier. As the sun shimmers on the rustling marsh grasses, Hervé Zarka rakes in sea salt from shallow pools. He uses a simoussi, a 10-foot pole tipped with a flat board. Salt has been harvested this way since at least the seventh century, when Benedictine monks dug the canals that bring seawater into this marshland.

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Now to Paris where audiences are enjoying the first stop of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's European tour. For almost 60 years, the company has been performing modern dance inspired by the African-American experience.

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