Another Australian, Simon Nash, is one stroke further back at minus-5 on the Val Course at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club. Seven more players are tied for fourth at 4-under-par 67.
The first round was completed despite an 80-minute weather delay.
Higgins got his round going with a birdie on the par-4 third. He birdied the eighth and came right back with an eagle on the par-5 ninth to make the turn in 4-under.
The Irishman was not finished. He birdied the 10th to grab a piece of the lead at 5 under.
Higgins parred six in a row, then birdied the 17th to get to 6 under. He parred the last to grab a share of the first-round lead for the third time in his career.
'I have been playing well for the last two months, but I haven't been finishing the tournaments off the way I should have so it's great to start the way I did today,' said Higgins.
Bransdon played the back nine first Thursday. He reeled off five straight birdies from the 11th to grab a share of the lead. He parred his next five holes around the turn.
'That was a very satisfying start,' Bransdon stated. 'A nice little par on the 10th and then I reeled off five straight birdies. I was trying to recall the last time that happened and I struggled to remember to be honest.'
The Australian climbed to 6 under with a birdie on the par-4 third. Bransdon closed with six consecutive pars to share the lead with Higgins. Bransdon leads after one round for the first time in his career.
'Six-under is not a bad round,' said Bransdon. 'I have started to show some form over the last few weeks.'
Daniel Denison, Michael Lorenzo-Vera, Santiago Luna, Carl Suneson, Marcus Higley, Anders S. Hansen and Raphael Eyraud are the seven tied for fourth at minus-4.