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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.

With turf wars over face masks and other personal protective equipment not yet over, the battle over who will be the first to get a COVID-19 vaccine seems to have begun.

Earlier this week, Paul Hudson, CEO of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, told Bloomberg News that if Sanofi develops a vaccine, doses would likely go to Americans first. Hudson said this was understandable, given the U.S. had financially supported its research.

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On a sunny weekend in mid-March, just a couple of days before President Emmanuel Macron put France in lockdown to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, 32-year-old Daphné Rousseau was outside Paris, enjoying lunch in the countryside with a group of friends.

When French President Emmanuel Macron addressed his countrymen this week to tell them they would have to stay inside another month, national media regarded his speech as raking in the highest TV audience ratings the country had ever seen.

Commander in Chief Macron now seems to have the attention and respect of much of the nation. What a difference a year — and a pandemic — makes.

On Wednesday, the first anniversary of the devastating fire that ripped through Notre Dame, the famous 17th century bell in the cathedral's south tower, known as "le bourdon," rang out at 8 p.m.

Brice de Malherbe, a priest at Notre Dame, came out on the warm, sunny evening to listen to the bell toll for the first time since the fire.

"My feeling today is mainly hope because the cathedral is still there," he said. "We don't have the blazing flames we had a year ago. Of course, the cathedral is hurt, but it seems nearly serene."

With France, like much of the world, in lockdown because of the coronavirus, the country's Christians will not be able to gather in churches to celebrate Easter this year.

But the archbishop of Paris says he wants to send a strong signal of hope to the faithful by holding a small Good Friday ceremony amid the rubble inside Notre Dame, and beaming it out to the world.

Paris baker Tony Doré pulls a rack of toasted, golden baguettes from the oven. He says he's baking them all day long to keep his customers supplied.

"Every day, so many people thank me for staying open," he says. "If the bakeries started closing, people would be unnerved. In France, we eat bread at every meal. It's a tradition. We cannot go without good bread."

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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.

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It's been warmer than normal in the Alps. There's less snowfall, even some rain. And all of that is making skiing at lower-altitude resorts difficult. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sends this report from this French ski town of Morzine.

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Now let's get reaction from around the globe. I'm joined now by NPR correspondent Deborah Amos in Beirut, Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem and Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

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In France, a strike over proposed changes to government pensions is now on Day 28. In his New Year's Eve address, President Emmanuel Macron says the government isn't planning to back down. Here's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley.

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