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01.01.2020 Europe

Arsène Wenger among 487 French Legion d’Honneur award winners

Reuters/Scott Heppell
LISTEN JAN 1, 2020
Reuters/Scott Heppell

Football all-rounder and former Arsenal coach Arsène Wenger, actresses Jeanne Balibar and Marina Hands, singer Gilbert Montagné and Nobel prize winner Gérard Mourou were among 487 people

According a statement by the Grande Chancellerie de la Legion d'Honneur, which hands out the distinctions, a total of 395 knighthoods, 73 officers, 13 commanders, 4 officers and 2 grand crosses were awarded.

The 487 awards were given to people who distinguished themselves in “the general interest,” technological innovation, ecology, science, economic development, culture, journalism, sport and public service.

The highest award, the grand cross, was awarded to two former resistance fighters, Pierre Simonet and Edgard Tupët-Thomé. Simonet, who is 98, joined the Free French Army of general De Gaulle in 1940 and fought in Libya and Italy.

The sociologist Claudine Herzlich and the Egyptologist Christiane Ziegler were awarded the rank of grand officer, and they were joined by the Albanian writer and Man Booker Prize winner Ismaïl Kadaré and the Franco-Bulgarian author Julia Kristeva.

Others who were honored because of their merits in the cultural field included actresses Jeanne Balibar, Marina Hands and Chantal Lauby (knightships) and Jean-François Chougnet, president of Marseille-based Museum for European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem.)

Singer Gilbert Montagné was promoted to officer.
In the field of science, Stéphane Israël, president of Arianespace was appointed knight and Gérard Mourou, a Nobel Prize in physics, was promoted to officer.

Nathalie de Noblet-Ducoudré, researcher and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Sophie Paturle-Guesnerot, Managing Director of Demeter Partners, were made knights.

Meanwhile, in the field of sport, Arsène Wenger, director of world football development at FIFA and long-time manager of English soccer club Arsenal was promoted to officer. Bernard Serin, president of FC Metz, can  now also call himself  a knight.

Former ministers and former parliamentarians were also among those being honoured: former minister and mayor of Boulogne Jean-Pierre Fourcade, was promoted to officer, and former Agriculture minister under President Jacques Chirac, Jean Glavany, was appointed knight.

According to the Chancellery, the institution of the Legion d'Honneur awards was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. It is France's highest national distinction and has 92,000 members.