The minister, Manuel Valls, said the Roma in France "live in dire conditions," the Sofia News Agency in Bulgaria reported Wednesday.
"We should not discriminate against anybody, but we also must face the reality of the situation with the Roma in France," Valls said.
The Roma or Romani, who speak a language closely related to Hindi, are believed to have migrated from India centuries ago. In Europe, they became known as gypsies because of a belief they were from Egypt.
Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner in charge of citizenship, said Roma who live in the European Union have the same rights as others. She suggested the French government is using the Roma as an election issue.
"Whenever politicians do not feel comfortable to discuss serious topics as the government's budget policy and debt, they turn to the one of Roma immigration issues," Reding said.