updated 07/08/2010 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/08/2010 AT 2:45 PM ET
It looks like we’re not the only ones who can go on and on about all the many reasons Johnny Depp is the perfect man.
“I could make an endless list of all the things I admire about him,” PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive’s longtime girlfriend Vanessa Paradis, in a rare interview, gushes in the August U.K. edition of Marie Claire. “But above all, I admire his immense loyalty I admire him as an actor, as a father and as the man he is for me. But more than anything, I admire him as a person.”
And just how does one snag – and keep – a Hollywood heartthrob like Depp for 12 years?
Space, she says.
“The fact that we’re not together every day plays a big part in keeping our relationship stable,” says the stunning French model and actress, who has two children with Depp,: Lily-Rose, 10 and Jack, 7. “We also have a lot of respect and admiration for one another.”
She adds: “We understand that, if we want our relationship to continue, we must give each other space, allow each other to go off on our own, and trust each other. Not everyone is lucky enough to be given space and trust. You’re really lucky if you find someone you can trust when you spend time apart.”
Calling her leading man “truly magnificent,” she reveals that she finds him sexiest when he’s “thoughtful or involved in something.” Says Paradis, “I love observing him when he is talking to people. I love seeing how he deals with situations.”