France's lower house of parliament has approved a bill expanding the number of stores allowed to be open on Sundays.
The French National Assembly passed the bill Wednesday by a vote of 282 to 238. It must now be approved by the Senate.
The new legislation would allow shops in France's three largest metropolitan areas - Paris, Marseille and Lille - to open on Sundays. Employees would be able to choose whether they work on Sundays and would be paid double for doing so.
Stores in other towns designated as areas of interest for tourism also would be allowed to open, as well as spas.
Extending Sunday working hours was one of President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign promises.
The move has met with criticism from the political opposition and those who consider Sunday work an affront to the traditional day of rest.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.