The speedy Spaniard, who is riding a wave of confidence after several strong results in recent weeks, breezed through his first match of this indoor hard-court event against an aggressive opponent.
Ferrer came to Paris after reaching the semifinals of the Tokyo event and the finals of the Shanghai Masters in October, as well as the semifinals of the Valencia tournament last week.
"My form's perfect at the moment. I'm five in the world. I think I'm having one of the best years of my career," the 29-year-old baseliner said.
Ferrer said the victory over Mahut, who qualified for the main draw and then defeated Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round, had given him confidence but that he knows he'll still have to improve his game to continue advancing.
"In the first set, I felt really good but then later I wasn't as comfortable. Mahut is an opponent who doesn't give you any rhythm and doesn't make things easy for you," Ferrer said.
The Spaniard, who broke Mahut once in each set, staved off the only two break points he faced, both of which came in the second set.
In another match Wednesday involving a Spanish player, Nicolas Almagro lost to Italian Andreas Seppi and in the process squandered his final chance of qualifying for the eight-man, season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be played later this month in London.
Ferrer and the top-ranked Spanish player, Rafael Nadal, had earlier booked their places in the year-end championship.
The BNP Paribas Masters is the last of this season's nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, which trail only the four Grand Slams and the year-end championship in terms of ranking points.