French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has asked France's top court to help the government draft a law banning the full Islamic veil, his office said.
The government's move comes three days after a French parliament report called for a ban on the burqa and niqab, saying Muslim women who fully cover their heads and faces pose an "unacceptable" challenge to French values.
Fillon wrote to the State Council, the country's highest administrative court, asking it to "study the legal solutions enabling us to reach a ban on wearing the full veil, which I want to be as wide and effective as possible."
He asked the court to "help the government find a legal answer to the concerns expressed by parliament's representatives and to rapidly submit a bill on the subject to parliament."
The State Council is to submit its findings by the end of March.
After six months of hearings, a panel of 32 lawmakers this week recommended a ban on the face-covering veil in schools, hospitals, public transport and government offices, the broadest move yet to restrict Muslim dress in France.
The commission stopped short however of calling for legislation to outlaw the burqa in the streets, shopping centres or other public venues after raising doubts about the constitutionality of such a move.