Ambassador François Richier was due to confer the honour of Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) on Rai Bachchan at a
hotel in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, Thursday.
"This prestigious distinction comes in recognition of her invaluable contribution to the world of cinema and the development of Indo-French cooperation in cinema, art, and culture," an embassy statement said.
Rai Bachchan, who turned 39 on Thursday, was Miss World 1994 and made her acting debut in the late 1990s.
She went on to star in more than 40 films, most of them Indian but some, such as The Pink Panther 2, foreign-made.
France is not unknown to her, since she is a regular on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival.
She married fellow actor Abhishek Bachchan in 2007 and they had their first child in November last year.
Her father-in-law, superstar actor Amitabh Bachchan, was awarded France's highest civilian award, the Légion d'Honneur in 2007.
Rai Bachchan was supposed to receive her French award in 2009, reports said, but the honour was postponed because her father was ill.
It was rescheduled for 2011 and was again put off due to the Mumbai bombings.
In September Rai Bachchan was named as an ambassador for the UN Aids agency, responsible for raising awareness of the HIV risk to children.