French centre-right presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has praised Tony Blair's "openness and pragmatism" during a visit to London.
Blair is on the left, Sarkozy on the right, but there is common ground
After meeting the British prime minister, Mr Sarkozy said there was "great trust" between them.
Mr Sarkozy is on his first foreign trip since announcing his presidential bid.
He is known to admire aspects of Britain's economic system, notably its flexible labour markets - a model rejected by many on the French left.
"It's not about imposing a model (on France) but Tony Blair has demonstrated pragmatism and has been useful for his country and I want a France that is very open to the world," Mr Sarkozy said, citing Northern Ireland and economic reforms.
"And one of our problems is that we're too self-centred," he added.
Mr Blair has strained relations with Jacques Chirac, particularly since the French president led opposition within the EU to the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Mr Sarkozy - who is also France's interior minister - acknowledged that London and Paris "have disagreements, such as the Iraq business".
But he added that Mr Blair "taught me that pragmatism and openness in politics counts".
The first round of the French presidential election is due on 22 April.