The Academy Award winning star, famous for his role in the cult classic Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, received the medal in a ceremony in Paris.
Sarkozy lauded the 74-year-old actor for his four-decade-long career in Hollywood, reported Daily Mail online. “I know 65 million French people who would like to be in my shoes right now. You are the incarnation of the United States and all that the country represents,” Sarkozy told Redford. He added that his roles in films like Out Of Africa and The Great Gatsby continue to delight viewers.
“Those who love cinema long remember your films, which we watch and re-watch with the same emotion each time,” continued Sarkozy.
Redford then made a speech in which he thanked the French people and reminisced about the time he spent in their country after finishing college. “I didn’t know anything about my own country, I was naïve and narrow-minded and it was the French students who opened my eyes and gave me real education,” said the actor.
At the ceremony the actor was joined by his wife of 15-months, Sibylle Szaggars, a German painter who has been his companion since 1996.