Nadal has struggled for his usual dominance on clay in the build-up to Roland Garros but the nine-time champion showed few signs of weakness against Quentin, who he beat 6-3 6-3 6-4.
“I had some up and downs during the season so it is normal that can happen here but I am trying to avoid that,” Nadal said.
“I played a good match, a solid one. When I had some opportunities I seized them.
“The first four games in the first set were tough, I made some mistakes, but then afterwards I was able to hit my shots.
“I had some problems with my serve, but on the whole, it was okay. I dominated the game. I managed to play some strokes down the line, so I handled the match very well.
“It was a solid performance and I’m happy with it.”
Quentin, who is ranked 296th in the world, was always unlikely to cause an upset but Nadal was impressed with his 18-year-old opponent.
“He made some mistakes but when you want to take risks on every single ball, then the mistakes are going to happen,” Nadal said. “Tennis is moving that way – younger, aggressive players – and the tour in general are moving to hit the ball stronger and quicker, going for the winners all the time.
“When he wants to play like this and he put the balls in, I could not do anything.”
Afterwards, Nadal revealed he had requested not to be officiated by umpire Carlos Bernardes at Roland Garros after the pair fell out during the Rio Open in February. Bernardes handed Nadal two time violations for exceeding the 25-second limit between points and the Spaniard was visibly frustrated as he went on to lose to Italian Fabio Fognini.
Nadal, who wanted to change his shorts after putting them on the wrong way round, complained about Bernardes to the ATP and has not been officiated by the Brazilian umpire since.
“Yes, it was my request,” Nadal said.
“I asked if it’s possible, but nothing personal against him 100 per cent, I respect him as an umpire, I respect him as a person, and I consider him a good person. For me he was not respectful enough with me in Rio de Janeiro. I think it does not show respect because I cannot play a full game with the shorts the other way. So it’s better to be away for a while. That’s all.”
Nadal will now face fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who beat Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov in four sets.
Number one seed Novak Djokovic is also safely through to round two after he beat Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 7-5 6-2.
The upset of the day in the men’s draw came on court one, where American Jack Sock knocked out tenth seed Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.
Last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist was beaten 7-6 (9/7), 6-2, 6-3, losing in the first round in Paris for the second successive year.
Fourth seed David Ferrer won in straight sets against Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko while home favourite Richard Gasquet, Marin Cilic and John Isner also went safely through.