A former French justice minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas made suggestions about New Caledonia's future status, warning that a poorly prepared independence referendum could blow up the territory.
A referendum is due next year to conclude the 20-year decolonisation process of the 1998 Noumea Accord, but there is still no agreement on the referendum question and the path forward.
Mr Urvoas, who was also the head of the law commission of the French National Assembly, suggested two options for consideration.
He said New Caledonia could opt for a status of an associated state akin to the standing of the Cook Islands or the Federated States of Micronesia with their ties to New Zealand and the U.S. respectively.
Another option could be the creation of a federated state, meaning that France and New Caledonia would form a joint country.
Mr Urvoas said this would allow the pro-independence camp to get the country and allow the anti-independence side to remain within the French republic.