Clint Eastwood has been awarded the Légion d'Honneur by French President Jacques Chirac at a ceremony in Paris.

At the ceremony at the Élysée Palace on Saturday, President Chirac paid tribute to Eastwood's work.

"In honouring you in this way, France of course wants pay homage in particular to your immense talent as an actor, to your genius as a director, to the exceptional place you hold in the world of cinema," he said.

"At this side of the Atlantic... you embody the best of Hollywood. In France, your films move millions of viewers because they are strong without being simplistic, lucid without being cynical," he added.

Saluting Eastwood's latest film, 'Letters from Iwo Jima', President Chirac said it was "a beautiful lesson in humanism" and showed "the dead ends that simplistic schemas or the recourse to force lead to".

The Legion of Honour is France's highest order and has five classes. Eastwood has been awarded the lowest rank, that of knight.

'Letters from Iwo Jima' opens in Ireland on Friday 23 February.