The parents have reclaimed the night in the suburban Paris town where France's unrest began two weeks ago.

While arsons and clashes with police are continuing in dozens of cities across France, fires have not burned in Clichy-sous-Bois since Monday night.

"The tears of our mothers stopped us," said Maldini, 26, a stout, French-born son of Algerian immigrants. He declined to provide his family name for fear of police harassment. "The parents, the mothers and fathers were all crying."

In the Paris suburbs and across the country, the incendiary rage of gangs of youths appears to be slowly subsiding. Using one barometer, police said 487 cars were set alight Wednesday night, a significant decrease from the 1,408 vehicles burned at the height of the frenzy Sunday night.

Throughout the poor immigrant suburbs of Paris, residents have led efforts to restore calm. In many communities, parents established night patrols on the streets and residents stood guard on doorsteps of housing projects, schools and sports facilities in an effort to dissuade attacks.

Even though the Paris suburbs have quieted significantly, the rampages are continuing in other towns. In France's second-largest city, Lyon, in the southeast, vandals attacked two power stations and caused blackouts Wednesday night, according to police. Schools were set ablaze in several places.

Several cities along the Mediterranean coast imposed curfews for unaccompanied minors under a state-of-emergency law activated for the first time since it was promulgated in 1955 during the Algerian war. Government officials have credited the curfews and police, who made 2,000 arrests, with subduing the rioting that spread to 300 cities and communities.

In Clichy-sous-Bois, a town of high-rise apartment buildings, low-slung strip malls and 28,000 people, residents said it was a combination of the pleading of parents, the promises of local officials and the work of Muslim organizations that tamped down the tempers and the fires. The worst unrest in France in nearly four decades began here Oct. 27 when two teenagers were electrocuted in a power substation while attempting to dodge a police checkpoint.

"We had to mobilize each other," said Hassan Hamim, a 26-year-old Moroccan immigrant and a father of two. "We told them they had to think about their brothers and sisters and the children. We told them violence was not the solution."

Marc Nadaud, 38, an immigrant from Ghana with three young children, said he met with town officials and said, "When we talk to you, you do not want to listen. Here is the result."

Nadaud said officials agreed to finish a youth and sports facility that was started a decade ago.

Youth gangs burned down a gymnasium and a youth center during the first nights of attacks in Clichy-sous-Bois.

In a litter-strewn parking lot behind a dingy strip mall, some young men said the violence had run its course after so many nights of fires and confrontations with police.

"We didn't want to continue burning cars and hurting people," said Waleed, a thin, towering 25-year-old who flipped a sweatshirt hood over his shaved head to ward off the evening chill. "It was just to attract attention. We did what we thought was just."

President Jacques Chirac, who has avoided appearing in public during much of the crisis, made only his second public comments in as many weeks Thursday. The message he offered was more conciliatory than his previous demand for law and order.

"We need to respond strongly and quickly to the undeniable problems which many inhabitants of the deprived neighborhoods surrounding our cities are facing," he told reporters. But Chirac was vague on how the government would respond.

Nadaud, who said he negotiated between town officials and angry gangs, echoed the warning of many residents of Clichy-sous-Bois: "If things do not change, if promises are not kept, violence may start again."

Researcher Habibou Bangre contributed to this report.