French President Jacques Chirac has acknowledged his country has "undeniable problems" in poor city areas and must respond effectively.
Police are reporting a significant drop in violence
"Whatever our origins we are all the children of the Republic and we can all expect the same rights," he said.
Violence subsided again overnight - there were clashes in Toulouse, but elsewhere unrest was only sporadic.
Meanwhile, eight police officers have been suspended after a young man was beaten up in a Paris suburb.
Police said two of the eight were suspected of illegally hitting the man arrested in La Courneuve, one of the riot hotspots.
The other six officers are also being investigated as suspected witnesses to the incident on 7 November.
"A medical statement shows the man has superficial bruises on his forehead and his feet," a police statement said.
There was calm in the Paris area on Wednesday night, where the riots began on 27 October.
Police reported 394 vehicles set ablaze across the country, compared with Sunday's peak of 1,400.
Mr Chirac's comments were the only second time he had spoken publicly about the rioting since it began.
"When the time is right and order has been re-established, all the lessons will have to be drawn from this crisis, and with a lot of courage and lucidity," Mr Chirac said in Paris.
"We need to respond strongly and quickly to the undeniable problems which many inhabitants of the deprived neighbourhoods surrounding our cities are facing."
But Mr Chirac defended his use of state-of-emergency legislation, and said the priority was still to restore order.
"I want to take this chance to pay homage to the professionalism and sangfroid of the Republic's security forces," he said.
Cabinet can declare state of emergency in all or part of the country
Regional leaders given exceptional powers to apply curfew
Breach of curfew could mean two-month jail sentence
Police can carry out raids on suspected weapons stockpiles
Interior minister can issue house-arrest warrants for those deemed dangerous to public safety
Public meeting places can be closed down
House searches possible day or night
Authorities can control media, film and theatre performances
Emergency can only be extended beyond 12 days if approved by parliament
He also called on parents of youngsters joining in the riots to "fulfil their responsibilities" and take them in hand.
The government declared a state of emergency in Paris and more than 30 other areas to help quell the unrest, in some areas using curfews to ban youths from the streets at night.
The nightly protests have gripped deprived areas where unemployment is rife and residents complain of racism and discrimination.
The unrest was first sparked by the deaths in the run-down Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois of two youths, who were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has told parliament that a number of foreigners who had been found guilty of involvement in the riots would be deported without delay.
Mr Sarkozy told MPs on Wednesday that 120 non-French nationals - including those with residency visas - had been convicted of taking part in the attacks and would be sent home.