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.

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The kitchen is hopping and hot at L'Ami Jean restaurant in Paris, as chef Stéphane Jégo gets lunch underway. Jégo, who has been at this small Paris bistro for 14 years, is joined on this day by Mohammad El Khaldy, a chef from Damascus in Syria.

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It's after 9 p.m. and Alix Le Bourdon is enjoying a picnic dinner with her family and friends at the Buttes Chaumont park in Paris 19th arrondissement. Usually at this time they'd be rushing to pack everything up before the park guards, blowing their whistle, come through to shoo everyone away and lock the gates.

Every Parisian knows the sound of those whistles that draw the curtain on many a summer night in the park. But not anymore, says Le Bourdon.

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Some major designers are launching fashion lines aimed at Muslim women — loose-fitting tunics and skirts with accompanying head veils. Once destined for markets in the Middle East, such clothing is gaining mainstream appeal in the West. In stores across Europe, "Islamic fashion" is now becoming available from top designers such as Dolce & Gabbana and DKNY.

An old country inn in the southern Swedish town of Karlshamn now shelters refugee families. Children play in the lobby, while a few adults watch news on a large-screen TV. More than 100 volunteers from the community want to help the refugees.

But the newcomers' arrival also has brought out ugly sentiments on social media, says Magnus Arvidsson, who is coordinating the volunteers. He says some people were saying on Facebook, "Oh my God, there [are] a lot of refugees coming to our village and we have to lock our bikes. And hide our stuff. We can't let our children out."

Sweden has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other European country — 160,000 last year alone. Refugees are now part of the landscape, even in small towns. And nearly everybody, not just those working with aid groups, is encountering the newcomers.

In the southern town of Ronneby, Dagmar Nordberg is giving Swedish lessons to Waliullah Hafiz, who goes by Wali, at her kitchen table. The 60-year-old Swedish museum director met this 23-year-old migrant from Kabul on a train platform in a nearby village on a freezing cold day last November.

Class has just ended at a community center in the southern Swedish town of Ronneby. This is the first stop for refugees in the area, once they've been granted asylum. They receive 60 hours of instruction on how to live in Sweden. The courses cover such things as how to rent an apartment, get a job and grow old here.

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And let's go right this morning to NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who is in the city of Brussels, a city that is mourning two days after a terrorist attack killed at least 31 people and wounded hundreds. Eleanor, what does the city feel like this morning?

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Britons will vote in June on whether to stay or leave the European Union. Both sides are campaigning fiercely in what is known as the Brexit, or British exit, referendum.

The town of Hastings on England's south coast is one of the closest points to the European continent. But local opinion polls show about half the people here want Britain to leave the European Union.

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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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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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Parents waited outside a primary school in Paris' 15th arrondissement, not so far from some of the places attacked last Friday night. With constant news coverage of the killings and schools joining the minute of silence Monday, there's no way to hide what has happened.

Laure Zang-Atangana came to the school, instead of the nanny, to pick up her 9-year-old daughter Anais.

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