Two Serbs, 36-year-old Nicolai Ivanovic and 38-year-old Zoran Kostic, were arrested on Monday at their discreet hotel in the Pigalle entertainment district of Paris, according to police and judicial officials.
They are being held for carrying false identity documents but are expected to face charges under arrest warrants linking them to a spectacular series of crimes in Mediterranean resorts and Alpine tax havens, they said.
Police described them as "big fish" in the Pink Panthers, a nickname given by British detectives to a network of Balkan robbers blamed for the theft of goods worth €110m in the past decade.
"Everywhere, it's the same tactics, typical of the 'Pinks'," said a French police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They're lightning fast hold-ups: daring, but carefully planned down to smallest detail.
"They're experts in covering their tracks after making their getaway, sending their booty by a variety of international means of delivery, and changing their own transport at will," he explained.
The Serbs were picked up after several days of surveillance following a tip-off to detectives of Paris's anti-organised crime squad.
They are suspected of carrying out raids in the Mediterranean millionaires' playground of Monte Carlo and the chic French Channel resort of Le Touquet, as well as in Germany and the Swiss cities of Lausanne and Geneva.
International officers also hope that the pair can shed light on robberies carried out as far afield as the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, where the Panthers carried out a spectacular heist.