France honours DiCaprio and Scorcese
Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio was also recognised for his contribution to films and named Commander of The Order of the Arts and Letters.
During the ceremony in Paris, French culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres hailed Scorcese's respect "for the rights of artists".
He said the acclaimed director, whose career has spanned 40 years and included classic films such as Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, gave "cinema to everyone - French, Europeans and Americans - alike".
Previous recipients of the award include directors Steven Spielberg and David Lynch.
"I don't know what to say after such a presentation," Scorcese said.
"French cinema of the late fifties, and the sixties and seventies still, for me, is such an extraordinary inspiration. Nothing has really come close to it in recent years.
"I owe a great debt to French cinema."
De Vabres described DiCaprio as an "icon, little Hollywood prince, bad boy from Los Angeles, modern romantic hero, Peter Pan of American cinema".
The 30-year-old Titanic star replied that he was "extremely, extremely honoured".
DiCaprio starred as millionaire Howard Hughes in Scorcese's latest film, The Aviator, out this month.
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