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Penelope receives French honour as Salma looks on

January 11, 2006
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France's cultural elite have honoured Hollywood actress Penelope Cruz with one of the country's highest accolades - the Knight of the Arts and Letters award. As beau Matthew McConaughey was tied up collecting a gong of his own in the US, the Spanish star took along two other special guests - pal Salma Hayek and younger sister Monica - to Wednesday's ceremony.

"I'm not sure I deserve it," said the Sahara beauty modestly.

Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, clearly begged to disagree. Hailing Penelope as a "great European actress", he pinned a medal of the order onto her lapel and paid tribute to her diverse performances in English, Spanish, Italian and French productions.

The Latin performer's latest silver screen project sees her teaming up with 39-year-old Salma to form a gorgeous bank-robbing duo in Bandidas. The English-language comedy, which was written by French director Luc Besson, follows the two glamorous gunslingers as they cause havoc in turn-of-the century Mexico.

One honour Penelope may think she's worth is her new contract to represent L'Oreal. An ad she's filmed for the beauty giant will air during the Golden Globes ceremony next Monday.

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Photo: ©
The Sahara actress was proclaimed a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, one of France's highest accolades. At the ceremony the country's minister of culture highlighted her performances in diverse European productionsPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
Penelope's younger sister Monica (centre) and the actress' friend Salma Hayek were there to congratulate herPhoto: © Getty Images

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