Tardi, best known for his works on the horrors of war and his Adèle Blanc-Sec fantasy series, said he had learned this week that he was to receive the Legion d'Honneur medal.
"Being fiercely attached to my freedom of thought and creativity, I do not want to receive anything, neither from this government or from any other political power whatsoever," he said in a statement.
"I am therefore refusing this medal with the greatest determination."
Tardi, 66, created one France's best-known heroines with Adèle Blanc-Sec, a paranormal investigator operating in Paris before and after World War I. The series has been translated into English and turned into a 2010 film by French director Luc Besson.
Tardi has been particularly lauded for his works on the daily brutality of war, with the 2011 translation of his "It Was the War of the Trenches" winning two Eisner Awards, the comic-book equivalent of the Oscars.
His latest work, "Moi René Tardi, prisonnier de guerre, Stalag II B", is based on his father's experiences as a prisoner of war of the Germans during World War II.