France is to set up a commission to study the extent of burka-wearing in the country, after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the veils reduced dignity.
He said the burka - a garment worn by Muslims that covers the body from head to toe - "deprived women of identity".
The French National Assembly has appointed 32 lawmakers on a fact-finding mission to look at ways of restricting its use.
France is home to Western Europe's largest population of Muslims.
In a speech, Mr Sarkozy said it was unacceptable to have women in France who were "prisoners behind netting".
He said it was not a sign of religion but a "sign of subservience". However, he also called for respect for Muslims.
Assembly Speaker Bernard Accoyer said the lawmakers from right and left-wing parties would have six months to examine the issue before making recommendations.
In 2004, France banned the Islamic headscarves in its state schools.
About five million Muslims live in France.