Eleanor Beardsley

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The newly-elected president of France will soon have to decide how to keep his campaign promises, or if he can keep them at all.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Many Europeans are not entirely sure what to make of the newly-elected president of France.

The possibility that French President Nicolas Sarkozy may lose the presidential election Sunday is making waves across Europe. Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are the architects of Europe's new fiscal austerity pact.

But the man likely to replace Sarkozy has other ideas.

Socialist candidate Francois Hollande — who is favored in opinion polls by several percentage points — says Europe cannot emerge from the crisis based on austerity alone.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is fighting desperately to hold on to his job with five days to go until the French presidential runoff against socialist rival Francois Hollande.

Both candidates have been trying to appeal to supporters of France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who came in third place in the first round of balloting held last month. Sarkozy, from the center-right, finished in second place, with Socialist candidate Francois Hollande taking first with nearly 29 percent of the vote.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Renee Montagne is back with us. Renee, welcome back.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Glad to be back, Steve. Thanks.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The French go to the polls Sunday to choose among 10 candidates for president, and opinion surveys suggest the outcome will be a runoff between the two main figures, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

But one of the big surprises of the race so far has been the resurgence of the radical left, whose candidate has gone from obscurity to becoming the most dynamic figure of the campaign.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a recent evening, Les Enfants Terribles, a Paris restaurant that serves French cuisine cooked with halal meat, was brimming with customers.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The killings in France of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers of North African descent came during a presidential campaign in which immigration has dominated campaign rhetoric. The Toulouse gunman, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, was shot dead by police, but the tragedy has prompted national soul-searching.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. Good morning.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A provocative comment by an extreme right presidential candidate has started a debate that is dominating the French presidential campaign. France may be in the middle of an economic crisis, but politicians seem more interested in talking about halal meat and religious dietary rules.

It all began when National Front Party presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said that non-Muslims in Paris were unwittingly eating halal meat.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At newsstands across France on Wednesday, readers will delight to a humorous broadsheet published every four years on leap day.

At news shops in Paris and around France, readers look forward to their copy of La Bougie du Sapeur every Feb. 29. Published since 1980, the satirical journal is now in its ninth edition. Its title, which translates as "sapper's candle," is taken from an old French comic-book figure who was born on that fateful last day of February.

In the traditional world of French politics, spouses don't usually jump into the fray. But French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy is anything but a traditional political spouse.

Her husband, President Nicolas Sarkozy, has just announced he is running for re-election this spring. It's a challenge: Polls show him trailing the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande.

Sarkozy's wife has promised to do everything she can to help her husband win — and that includes hitting the campaign trail.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

France is holding a presidential election this spring. And the campaign is in full swing, sort of. The only thing missing is one of the candidates, President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mitt Romney waxed eloquent in French as he promoted the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, calling the two years he spent as a young man in France an "enriching experience."

But now that he's running for president, Romney doesn't talk a lot about his time as a Mormon missionary in France.

"Voila," Philippe Brillault says as he points to the site of what would be France's first Mormon temple.

Brillault is the mayor of Le Chesnay, which lies just outside Paris and next to Versailles. He can point to Louis XIV's chateau from his office.

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.

The Louvre had a record 9 million visitors last year, and about 10 percent of them were American. Yet the iconic Paris art museum only has four American paintings in its huge permanent collection.

But the Louvre's curators want to change that and heighten the public's knowledge and awareness of early American art with a new exhibit.

Nationwide, French museums own some 2,000 American paintings, but those Whistlers, Homers and Cassatts are exhibited in more modern museums such as the Musee d'Orsay.

Greetings from McDonald's, or "MacDo," as they call it here in Paris, where I am comfortably ensconced in a McCafé enjoying a croissant and a grand crème coffee. I'm surrounded by people of all ages who are talking with friends, reading, or typing away on their laptops like me.

The beauty of McDonald's in France is that it doesn't feel like a fast food joint, where hordes of people shuffle in and out and tables turn at a fast clip.

France's 35-hour work week has plenty of critics who say it has sapped the country of its competitiveness and is tying companies in knots. And to make their case, a leading example is the current state of overtime at French hospitals.

Along with five weeks of annual leave, French employees get time off if they work more than 35 hours in a week. At the Hopital Vaugirard, a public hospital in central Paris, employees have accumulated more than 2 million days off in the past decade.

Standard & Poor's downgraded the sovereign debt of France, Italy, Spain and six other European countries on Friday. The move was highly expected, but it's still a blow to France and sending shock waves across Europe. France is the eurozone's second-largest economy, and its downgrade could even threaten Europe's master plan to stop its debt crisis.

Pages