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.
Workers across France are rushing to restore various parts of Notre Dame Cathedral, with a goal to reopen the site in Paris in December 2024 — five years after a destructive fire.
The battle over the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has been a deadly slugfest that has reduced it to ruins. Ukrainian medics have worked hard to support and treat wounded soldiers.
Thousands of residents fled when Russia attacked Kharkiv, but a street artist called the Ukrainian Banksy remained and kept working. (Story aired on Weekend All Things Considered on 3/25/23.)
There are still some 10,000 civilians in the Ukrainian frontline city of Bakhmut. Many have left and some live in a shelter in a nearby town where they share stories of survival and loss.
Unions are upping the ante in ongoing strikes against bitterly contested pension reform plans in France, with no prearranged end date and workers set to strike across multiple sectors.
Switzerland is considering allowing its military hardware to be given to Ukraine. It would be a big change in policy for the traditionally neutral country.
French unions have called for a strike to again protest the government's planned changes to the retirement system — especially the plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.
Predictions of rolling blackouts across Europe this month have not come to pass — so far. It's not only because of the mild winter.
The U.S., France and Germany have recently announced plans to send armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine. The Western-designed weapons are an upgrade, but they're not the tanks that Ukraine wants.
The war in Ukraine is transforming Europe in more ways than one. Ukrainian refugees in France are helping to fill jobs in places where there aren't enough French workers.