Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand pinned green and gold medallions on the two, making the "Alice in Wonderland" and "Edward Scissorhands" director an officer in France's National Order of Arts and Letters, while the "Nine" and "La Vie en Rose" star was made a knight.
Burton, wearing a dark suit and his trademark finger-in-an-electric-socket hairdo, called it "one of the biggest honors I've ever received."
"From the beginning of my career, I always felt a very special place in my heart (for) France," he told the crowd of journalists and fans. "Because whether or not you liked the movies, I always felt that the French were looking for the poetry, looking for the meaning, looking for the things I was trying to do.
"France has such a special place in my heart and I feel much more at home here than I do in my own country, and I always have," he said, adding: "I thank you very much."
Cotillard, dressed in a checkered skirt and blouse in seashell pink silk, thanked Burton, whose 2003 film "Big Fish" was among her first U.S. movies.
Burton "in a way opened the doors to American cinema to me and has always been my idol," she said in a brief speech. She also thanked her friends and family — including her brother and her boyfriend, celebrated French director Guillaume Canet, both of whom attended the ceremony.
Burton's girlfriend, Helena Bonham Carter — who plays the short-tempered Red Queen in "Alice in Wonderland" — was on also hand for Monday's event, looking in her quirky black and white striped skirt suit and veiled hat as if she had just walked off the set of a Burton movie.
The two were in France to promote "Alice," premiering in Paris on Monday. The 3-D film also stars Johnny Depp, a frequent collaborator with Burton, as the Mad Hatter.
The director will return to France in May for the Cannes Film Festival, where he is to preside over the jury.
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