Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in June 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 to follow its progress on the road to democracy.

In France, Beardsley covered both 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections. She also 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 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, S.C., 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.

As soon as I walk into the squalid, unofficial migrant camp known as "the Jungle," outside the northern French city of Calais, I meet Amran, a 13-year-old Afghan boy staying here on his own.

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Emad, a Damascus native, says he is starting to feel at home in the northwestern Dutch city of Haarlem. The 25-year-old comes on foot to meet me at the city's train station, where I traveled from Paris to meet him in November.

"It's fascinating, it reminds me a lot of Damascus," he says. "Because it has the old city, then it goes modern and it goes to old buildings [again]. So it gives me a warm feeling to be here."

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The terrorist attacks in Paris this year — in January and November — were both carried out by French citizens who became Islamist radicals. The phenomenon of home-grown terrorism first came to light here three years ago, when a French citizen of Algerian descent killed a teacher and three children at a Jewish school and three French soldiers in a rampage in southwestern France.

The Moroccan-born mother of one of those soldiers, who was Muslim, has led a personal battle ever since.

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The funerals for the 130 victims of this month's Paris terrorist attacks have been held, and France mourned its victims in a national ceremony held at Paris' historic Les Invalides military hospital on Friday.

President Francois Hollande called them martyrs who had been killed because they were living the French ideals of liberty, equality and democracy. Hollande said a generation would be forever marked by the events of Nov. 13.

As France held a national ceremony Friday in homage to the victims of this month's terrorist attacks, President François Hollande called on his compatriots to display the French flag in their homes.

For many Americans, it's something they would instinctively do after such a national trauma. But the French have an entirely different relationship with their flag.

In France, the flag flies on public buildings and is often waved at sporting events, but it is not traditionally a symbol people personally embrace.

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