France's lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban wearing the Islamic full veil in public.
There were 335 votes for the bill and only one against in the 557-seat National Assembly.
It must now be ratified by the Senate in September to become law.
The ban has strong public support but critics point out that only a tiny minority of French Muslims wear the full veil.
Many of the opposition Socialists, who originally wanted the ban limited only to public buildings, abstained from voting after coming under pressure from feminist supporters of the bill.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has backed the ban as part of a wider debate on French identity but critics say the government is pandering to far-right voters.