Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in June 2004, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy.

Beardsley has covered both 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections as well as the Arab Spring in Tunisia, where she witnessed the overthrow of the autocratic President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. She 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 French. 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 Masters 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.

In separate recording studios and separate songs, two groups of international stars have harnessed the power of their voices to help raise awareness of Ebola.

Music resounds through the hallways to signal the end of class at Kiev's Lyceum for the Humanities, one of the Ukrainian capital's top public high schools.

Lively students dressed in dark blue school uniforms pour into the stairwells as they make their way to the next class. Once they're seated at their desks, their teacher explains that today a foreign journalist has come to meet them.

A cease-fire in eastern Ukraine appears to be collapsing, with both the Ukrainian government and separatist forces accusing each other of violating it. That won't come as a surprise to the people of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, who are deeply skeptical.

Every July, for one month a year, the southern French city of Avignon becomes a theater. Actors, directors and playwrights converge on the walled, medieval town, where thespians perform in every playhouse, opera house, church and even in the streets. It's all part of the Avignon Theater Festival, which was started in 1947 by renowned French actor and director Jean Vilar.

If you go to France this summer, you might notice a new logo in restaurant windows or on menus. It's a simple graphic of a rooftop covering a saucepan, and it's supposed to designate fait maison, or homemade. It's designed to highlight places that make their own dishes rather than bringing in frozen or sous vide — prepared meals cooked in a water bath, sealed in airtight plastic bags and designed to be heated up later.

Last year, the Tour de France celebrated its 100th anniversary with a spectacular sound and light show at the Arc de Triomphe during the closing ceremony.

It might be hard to duplicate that kind of enthusiasm at this year's Tour, which begins Saturday, especially with competition from the World Cup in Brazil. But the 2014 Tour will be special too, says Matthieu Barberousse, a journalist with L'Equipe sports newspaper.

Since the upheaval in Ukraine began four months ago, the number of kidnappings of journalists and activists has been on the rise, though they've always been part of the Ukrainian political landscape.

When an umbrella breaks, most people just throw it away — and pick up another one, from a street vendor or maybe a drugstore.

But what if you got it repaired instead? Would you even be able to find someone who could do the work?

In Paris, it's still possible, but just barely. What was once a thriving profession has dwindled dramatically. These days, Thierry Millet, 58, says he is the city's last umbrella repairman.

Once again, French television screens are full of images of joyous Africans welcoming French troops.

In January, the French military intervened in Mali to help liberate large swaths of the country from radical jihadists. Now, for the second time this year, France has sent troops into an African country to quell violence.

Last week, French soldiers went into the Central African Republic to stop sectarian killings. In news reports from the Central African Republic, crowds yell, "Vive la France!" as they run out to greet convoys of French soldiers.

There's a fight going on for the soul of France. Since 1906, Sunday has been deemed a collective day of rest in the country, and French law only allows stores to open on Sundays under very specific conditions — for example, if they're in a high tourist area. Sunday work is also tightly controlled.

But some people are questioning the sense of such a tradition in a languishing economy and 24/7 world.

Prized Burgundies and Bordeaux once served at the presidential palace in France were sold for the first time ever as the wine cellar at Elysee Palace gets an overhaul.

Some 1,200 bottles, or 10 percent of the palace wines, went on sale this week at the famous Drouot auction house in downtown Paris. On the block were vintages from 1930 to 1990, including famous names such as Chateau Latour, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Montrachet.

In France, an elderly man is fighting to make a formal break with the Catholic Church. He's taken the church to court over its refusal to let him nullify his baptism, in a case that could have far-reaching effects.

Seventy-one-year-old Rene LeBouvier's parents and his brother are buried in a churchyard in the tiny village of Fleury in northwest France. He himself was baptized in the Romanesque stone church and attended mass here as a boy.