Mayor Bertrand Delanoe made the award in what French President Nicolas Sarkozy described as a municipal matter, not an act of state.
France has been trying to repair ties with China after recent tensions between the two countries.
Tension has been high between France and China, following chaotic scenes during last year’s Olympic torch relay through Paris, and a December meeting between Mr Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama.
Last month China warned France not to make more “errors” on Tibet.
“The behaviour of the Paris government… has created grave interference in relations between China and France,” China’s foreign ministry said in its statement to the AFP on Monday.