The self-styled “professional revolutionary” was one of the world’s most wanted terror suspects in the 1970s and early 1980s.
He was dubbed Carlos the Jackal, after the fictional terrorist in Frederick Forsyth’s 1971 novel The Day Of The Jackal, after a reporter saw a copy of the book next to the terrorist’s belongings.
The 67-year-old, whose real name is Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, a Venezuelan, was arrested in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in 1994 by elite French police and is serving a life sentence for the murders of two policemen in Paris in 1975 and a Lebanese revolutionary.
He was also found guilty of four bombings in Paris and Marseilles in 1982 and 1983.
Some of the atrocities targeted trains and a total of 11 people died and 150 were injured.
Three judges will hear the trial for the attack on the Drugstore Publicis, a busy shop once located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the heart of Paris.
A grenade was thrown into the entrance of the store on 15 September 1974, killing two men and leaving 34 people injured.
Georges Holleaux, a lawyer representing the two widows of the dead men and 16 other people affected, said they relished the chance to finally see Carlos in court.
He said: “The victims have been waiting so long for Carlos to be judged and convicted. Their wounds have never healed.”
Carlos’s lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, said the trial was a waste of time and money, saying: “What exactly is the point of having a trial so long after the events?”
He denies the charges, which include “murders carried out with a terrorist organisation”.
The prosecution claims the attack was linked to a hostage-taking at the French embassy in the Dutch capital The Hague that had begun two days earlier, on 13 September 1974.
Carlos was head of “special operations” at the Japanese Red Army, a communist militant group which had close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It was demanding that French authorities free one of its members, who had been arrested at Paris Orly airport two months earlier.
Carlos is accused of orchestrating the Hague hostage-taking and carrying out the Paris grenade attack to force the French government to give in to the Japanese group’s demands.