The American actress, 63, wiped away tears as she was awarded the highest French arts honour, representing the Commandeur des Arts et Lettres.
The extravagant gold medal, which featured a striped dark green ribbon, was draped around the Basic Instinct star’s neck by Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux.
Ensuring that she looked incredible for the honour, Oscar-nominated Sharon opted for a baby pink trouser suit which she teamed with a navy blouse.
Sharon was also joined by actor Bill Murray, 70, whom she has been close friends with since they starred in 2005’s Broken Flowers.
Cannes Film Festival President Pierre Lescure was also in attendance for the honour, which was established on May 2, 1957 by the Minister of Culture, André Malraux.
The award recognises exceptional contributions to the arts, literature and related fields.
Previous recipients have included Leonardo Dicaprio, Clint Eastwood, Bob Dylan and U2’s Bono.
Sharon’s most iconic role is her portrayal of Catherine Tramell in the 1992 hit, Basic Instinct.
The icon has often spoken out about the scene in Basic Instinct, which famously shows her character crossing and uncrossing her legs during a police interview while not wearing underwear.
Previously opening up about the unpleasant circumstances while filming her role, she alleged that she was told to remove her underwear during her famous interrogation scene because they ‘reflected the light’.
In an excerpt from her memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, obtained by Vanity Fair, the actress, who was 32 at the time of filming, also said that she was promised her private area would not be visible on-screen.
Sharon said she realised the agreement wasn’t honoured when she called to see the final version of the film in a ‘room full of agents and lawyers, most of whom had nothing to do with the project.’
She wrote: ‘That was how I saw my vagina-shot for the first time, long after I’d been told, “We can’t see anything, I just need you to remove your panties, as the white is reflecting the light, so we know you have panties on.”
Basic Instinct director Paul Vehoeven has since denied tricking Sharon into going without underwear for the film, calling the actress’ version of events ‘impossible’.