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15th woman handed highest honour

Academic becomes just 15th woman to be named Grand Cross of France's Legion D'Honneur

ACADEMIC Marianne Bastide-Bruguiere has become just the 15th woman to be named Grand Cross of the Legion D’Honneur.

The China and Chinese language expert has been elevated to the highest order of France’s honour system. Only 75 people at any given time can hold a Grand Cross.

Of those 75, Ms Bastide-Bruguiere joins six other women - Valérie André, Simone Rozès, Jacqueline de Romilly, Christine Desroches Noblecourt, Gilberte Champion and Yvette Farnoux.

In total, 676 people have been recognised in the Easter honours list, which was announced yesterday. They include lawyer and former French minister Georges Kiejman, who has been elevated to the rank of Grand Officer.

Sociologist Alain Touraine, father of France's social affairs minister Marisol Touraine, has been elevated to the rank of Commander.

Meanwhile, a special promotion that rewards the Légion D'Honneur or Ordre National du Mérite has honoured 22 Olympic medalists and Paralympic Games in Sochi 2014.

Also among the sports stars recognised are, Olympic champion and world record-holding pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, and triple world cycling champion François Pervis. They have been appointed knights, under an “exceptional service” provision of the Legion's code which exempts them from the usually required minimum period of 20 years of activity.

The Order has a maximum quota of 75 Grand Cross, 250 Grand Officers, 1,250 Commanders, 10,000 Officers and 113,425 (ordinary) Knights.

As of 2010, the actual membership was 67 Grand Cross, 314 Grand Officers, 3,009 Commanders, 17,032 Officers and 74,384 Knights.

Two more civilian promotions are scheduled to take place in the next 12 months - in July and on January 1, 2015.

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