A statement from Heitz’ office said the decision was based on evidence given to his office and information exchanges with American authorities who had been handling the case in the United States.
No details were given as to what was provided to the chief prosecutor, but the statement said that the investigation related to minors who were 15 years old and older.
Epstein owned a number of properties around the world, including a Caribbean island and an apartment near the Arc du Triomphe in Paris.
Disgraced American billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein hung himself in his cell in New York at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The 66-year-old was facing federal charges of sex trafficking.
A number of women in the US have come forward with accusations that he sexually abused them.
Although an earlier call from two French ministers to open an investigation was well-received by some, Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet responded that it is up to French judicial authorities, not the government, to pursue possible French ties to the case.
The preliminary investigation could lead to formal charges if there is enough evidence, according to French law. If not, the case will be dropped. Investigators are looking in to charges of rape of minors 15 years old and older, sexual aggression and criminal association that could lead to committing crimes.
They would also be looking for any possible victims who are French citizens, as well as whether French laws were broken in the country.
Epstein had already been convicted in 2008 in the US for soliciting a minor for prostitution. He served 13 months in jail, he was listed as a sex offender, and was order to pay compensation to his victims.