Here is the explanation of the honor from Wiki and again, congratulations to a great woman. I do not know the particulars, but maybe she would share. And, later, photos, please....
The National Order of Merit is a French order which was established on 3 December 1963 by General de Gaulle and it recognizes distinguished merit...in military or civilian (actions) to the French Nation
The decree creating the National Order of Merit h.as the distinction of bearing the signatures of three presidents of the French Republic. It is signed by President Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, then prime minister and Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Minister of Finance and Economy of the time .
Its creation allows to upgrade the National Order of the Legion of Honor created by Napoleon Bonaparte on May 20 1802 to reward outstanding merit .
It also includes three ranks: knight, officer and commander, and two honors: Grand Officer and Grand Cross .
The appointment of the National Order of Merit can be done by ministerial proposal and by the procedure of citizens' initiative