France was largely spared overnight Saturday from the violence that has wracked the country for 17 nights, but arson and violence have spread to other European countries.

There were fears that Paris would be a target Saturday after reports that a co-ordinated assault was being planned, but it didn't materialize.

An additional 3,000 police were mobilized to ensure calm over the Armistice Day long weekend, with increased security around noted landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and transportation centres such as train stations.

National police Chief Michel Gaudin said the relative calm on Saturday night represented a "major lull" in the turmoil. At a media briefing Sunday, he suggested "things could return to normal very quickly."

France reported only two major incidents on Saturday, one in the centre of Lyon southeast of Paris and the other in Carpentras in the south.

Reports from around the country said 374 vehicles were set on fire. That is down from about 1,300 overnight on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5 and 6.

President Jacques Chirac's government announced emergency measures on Tuesday, including curfews aimed at stopping the violence.

29 vehicles torched in Belgium

But Belgium had its worst night in a week and the Netherlands also reported violent incidents, although they are minor in comparison with the situation in France.

In Belgium, 29 vehicles were set on fire around the country. There are no reports of injuries and 50 people have been arrested.

In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, four cars were torched and a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a home.

Back in France, Lyon police used tear gas to break up a crowd of about 50 young men who were throwing stones.

The clash began at about 5 p.m. local time Saturday in Place Bellecour square, where riot police had been deployed to head off possible disturbances.

Police said two people were arrested in the violence.

In Carpentras, youths drove cars into a school and retirement home. No injuries were reported.

The unrest has mainly hit poor suburbs around large towns and cities as black and Arab youths rebelled against poverty, the lack of opportunities, and perceived harassment by police based on skin colour.

Violence erupted Oct. 27 after the accidental electrocutions of two teenagers hiding out in a power substation to evade police.