France's top legal authority has approved a law banning full-face veils in public, the last hurdle for the ban, which has been criticised as stigmatising Muslim women.
The Constitutional Council, which had previously warned that banning the veil may be unconstitutional, said it approved the version of the bill which has been passed by both houses of parliament, after a final review.
It ruled however that the ban, due to enter force next year, would be unenforceable in public places of worship, where it may violate religious freedoms.
The text makes no mention of Islam, but President Nicolas Sarkozy's government promoted the law as a means to protect women from being forced to wear Muslim full-face veils such as the burqa or the niqab.
Opponents say it breaches French and European human rights legislation.