Eleanor Beardsley

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.

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In Paris, pleasure boats ply the Seine River as people stroll along its banks on a summer day. The French have six weeks of vacation, free universities, top-notch public transport and arguably the world's best health care system. So who could be unhappy here? Yet in poll after poll, the French rank as some of the biggest malcontents in the Western world.

Parisian Bruno Fontaine is relaxing by the edge of the river. He says his countrymen don't realize how good they have it. But as world travelers, he says he and his wife do.

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France plans to go ahead with the sale of two warships to the Kremlin, even as the European Union and U.S. strengthen sanctions on Russia amid continued fighting in Ukraine and the aftermath of the downed Malaysian airliner.

Jews are leaving France and moving to Israel in unprecedented numbers this year.

With the departures expected to surpass 5,000, France could pull ahead of the U.S. for Jewish emigration to Israel, known as aliya. Usually, making aliya is a cause for celebration. But in France this year, it's tinged with bitterness.

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.

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A bike rental scheme in Paris that began seven years ago has been such a success, the city has launched a version for children. Parents can now rent bikes for tots up to 8 years old at locations across the city.

Officials say the program won't cost Paris a cent and might help build a new generation of environmentally conscious citizens — or perhaps inspire a few future Tour de France champions.

A vigilante attack against a Roma teenager has shocked France and put pressure on the French government to improve conditions for the ethnic minority. Human rights advocates say the rise of a xenophobic climate in the country may have contributed to the attack.

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Germaine and Lucien Rigault, 86 and 89 years old, respectively, lean out their first-floor window, watching people go by. They were here in the tiny French hamlet of La Cambe on June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Normandy and began the liberation of France and Europe from Nazi control during World War II.

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French President Francois Hollande says that for now, France intends to go through with a deal to build two warships for the Russian navy. The first of the Mistral-class assault vessels is supposed to be delivered in October.

The $1.6 billion deal is the biggest sale to Russia ever by a NATO country. And three years ago, when the contract was signed, French officials hailed it as a sign that Moscow should be considered a partner, not an enemy. Still, there were critics among NATO allies even then.

Decked out in red, white and blue clothing, and waving flags and banners, thousands of supporters of the far-right National Front party marched through central Paris on Thursday — known as May Day or International Workers Day — to hear charismatic leader Marine Le Pen. The traditional gathering began, as always, at a gilded statue of Joan of Arc, where Le Pen laid a wreath.

Bearing messages ranging from the inspiring to the insipid, "love locks" can be found clamped onto bridges in major cities around the world. But no place has it worse than Paris, where the padlocks cover old bridges in a kind of urban barnacle, climbing up every free surface.

Take the Pont des Arts, Paris' most famous footbridge across the Seine river. Hundreds of thousands of padlocks cover its old iron railings; the light of day barely passes through them.

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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.

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