The first couple of games went with serve before Benneteau troubled sixth seed Tsonga but couldn't convert any of the five break points he earned.
Tsonga punished this by breaking in the next game before again cracking the Benneteau serve in the eighth game to take the first set 6-2.
Tsonga, who won this tournament in 2008 in his only Masters 1000 success, couldn't break away as Benneteau finally broke his serve to go 2-1 ahead in the second.
However, the underdog failed to consolidate the break as Tsonga broke straight back to-15.
Benneteau secured a third consecutive break to yet again go ahead and this time he followed it up by holding serve on three occasions to win the set 6-4.
The third set had a cagey feel and the first seven games remained with serve until Tsonga opened up a two-game advantage and had the opportunity to serve for the set.
The buoyant French crowd were provided with further entertainment as Benneteau pegged back Tsonga once more to level the decider at 5-5.
Soon the pair were into a tie-break and it was Tsonga who managed to come through, taking the breaker 7-2.
The 27-year-old will now face a Spanish opponent in the form of either Nicolas Almagro of Albert Ramos in round three.