The 32-year-old world number one now has 17 Grand Slam titles, just three behind his great rival Roger Federer, who skipped the clay for the second year running but will return for the upcoming grass court season.
The Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy was back in Nadal's arms after his straight-sets victory over David Ferrer in 2013, but the hard yards were achieved in the semi-finals when he defeated Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 9-7 in a four-hour, 37-minute epic.
Assuming he can add a few more wrinkles to his game and channel a bit more discipline on the Grand Slam stage, it's likely just a matter of time before Thiem falls to the clay at Court Philippe-Chatrier to revel in personal triumph. He also beat the Spaniard in Buenos Aires in 2016.
But Thiem, unusually standing up to Nadal's first serve, forced two break points in the next game and converted the second with a flashing forehand into the right corner. "I played a great match against a great player", said Nadal.
Thiem dug in - especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game - but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors.
Rafael Nadal continued his record-extending 11th championship at Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal suffered a cramp which required immediate medical timeout
Nadal had never lost in the 112 best-of-five-set matches in which he had won the opening set and Thiem dropped serve early in the second with another over-cooked backhand.
However, it was not all smooth sailing for Nadal on Sunday, as he started suffering cramps on his left hand in the third set. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him, so he changed into a fresh one at a changeover, drawing catcalls from spectators.
There is not much more daunting of a task than doing so against Nadal at the French Open, where he is now 11-0 in finals and 86-2 overall. Nadal had another massage at 5-2 and he ended Thiem's ordeal on his fifth match point when the Austrian returned long.
The 10-time champion is playing Dominic Thiem.
Thiem was considered the stiffest test for Nadal at the French Open and understandably so.
In fact, Thiem is so good on clay that he has downed Nadal three times on the surface, including earlier this year at the Madrid Open.
Rafael Nadal speaks out after 11th French Open win
In 2003, at the age of 16, Nadal became the youngest man to reach the third round of Wimbledon since Boris Becker in 1984. Rafael Nadal described his performance at the French Open past year , when he didn't surrender a set, as "perfect".