The British musician was presented with the award by President Emmanuel Macron during a ceremony at the Élysée Palace.
President Macron’s office lauded Sir Elton, 72, as a “melodic genius” and as one of the first gay artists to give a voice to the LGBT community.
He utilized his acceptance speech to advance his charity work.
The performer’s charity, The Elton John Aids Foundation, has produced more than £310m for HIV prevention, education and support.
During his speech he said how important the battle against AIDS was to him: “Like music, the fight against AIDS has been my passion for many many years.
“And like music this fight reminds me every day of the extraordinary power of the human spirit.
“And that things that bind us are stronger than those that divide us. It is this magical human spirit I will carry with me as a proud member of the Legion d’Honneur.”
He added: “I have a huge love affair with France: I have a house here, I’ve always loved coming here, I love the French culture, the way of life and the French people.”
The respect comes a month after the release of the Rocketman biopic.
Sir Elton was in France as a component of his goodbye visit.
A year ago the pop legend declared he would quit any pretense of visiting to invest more energy with his family.
He said he would say goodbye to fans with a final world tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, which includes more than 300 concerts over five continents.