Clairefontaine is famous for its exceptionally white and ultra smooth notebook paper. For those who use Clairefontaine paper, it is the quality of the paper and consistency of standards that is often noted.
The paper has a smooth satin finish and fountain pen nibs glide across the paper effortlessly. The paper itself is 90g, pH neutral acid-free. Opaque, with this produce, you to write on both sides of a page with no bleeding through the page.
The paper is available as notebooks in various sizes and styles that include blank, lined or 5/5 grid. The booklets come in staple bound, cloth bound, spiral bound and hardcover versions. The sizes of the books have changed over the year, but currently (2011) there are some nine different sizes available, ranging from 3 x 4” to 8 ¼ x 11 ¾”.
The company dates back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Bichelberger established his paper mill in the town of Etival-Ckairefontaine in the Vosges mountains, in France. Products entered the market around 1890. In 1950 Charles Nusee, the great grandson of Jean-Baptiste Bichelberger expanded and modernized the company in terms of equipment.
While for many, Clairefontaine means the small notebooks and journals, the company produces a full range of paper products including paper for office use and art.
In 1997 Clairefontaine purchased Rhodia and formed the new group of Clairefontaine Rhodia.
My Use of Clairefontaine Paper
I have used Clairefontaine paper for more than 30 years. It is the paper that I consistently use for my travel journals.
Upon arriving in France, I would purchase the paper always make sure I brought a good supply home as originally Clairefontaine paper was not easily available in North America. Even now, with their paper available at many locations across Canada, I find the selection in France to be rich and I am always pick up extra journals, notebooks and loose-leaf packs of paper.
I started with the loose leave "feuilets mobiles" 5/5 grid. The pages came in packages of 200 pages stored in a handy cardboard cover. For the paper I would buy the classic two ring binders that held the 170 x 220 mm (6.5 x 8.5 inches) pages.
For many years I used the loose leave pages and binders for my travel journals and then changed to the bound 170 x 220 mm (6.5 x 8.5 in) journal notebooks — "douceur de l'écriture" - as they were easier to keep in my luggage and there was less concern over a page tearing out of the book. Same quality paper.
I found the covers to be durable, no problem pushing and pulling the note book out of luggage. I can even place a wine glass on the cover and just wipe it off!
Clairefontaine paper is opaque which is excellent for writing on both sides of the page - important for travel journals!
One of the lines that I particularly like is the Age Bag, plain coloured cardboard cover, cloth bound-stiched. Pages are grouped and stitched. Just like a real book! No staples, no glue to come undone when this book is in the sun a little too long. I find the books very durable. The colours vary. There is a tan, a red, black and last week I saw a the notebooks also availalbe in a light green colour. Got to get that!
The smallest of the notebooks are 3.5" x 5.5" and that I tend to keep in one of the pockets of my camera bag. Great for short quite notes. But the pages are too small for any lengthy writing - just short notes I would jot about a particular camera setting or a note on the location.
The next size up is 5.5" x 8" and I thought I would use this to be my new travel journal book, but the book has only 92 sheets (192 pages) and I prefer the slightly larger 6.5" x 8.5" Brochure dos Toelé which is also cloth bound and has 144 sheets/288 writing pages. It is a better size for my journal and size of writing. With the slightly larger book, in terms of number of pages, I can typically get a compelte trip recorded in one book.
There is a 9 x 14" note book in the 5/5 grid and lined versions. It is a good sized book with 192 pages/96 sheets of paper. I tend to keep one of these larger books on the go on my desk. I record various web site information and use it as a handy reference source.
The books with the wire spiral bindings are handy in that the pages lay flat, but the spiral can take a beating being pulled in and out of my suitcase so over the years I have more consistently used the sewn bound books. My desktop versions are fine and I like the way book and its pages lay totally flat on the desk.
The small booklets come in a 9 x 14 cm (3.25 x 5.5") size, which will bit into just about any space you have available in your camera or other bag. I prefer the 11 x 17cm (4 x 6.5") as the page just seems a better size for my writing. Both sizes hold 96 sheets for 192 pages.
Pictured to the right, this is a note book that I use when I am at a conference or course, handy for notes and the pages are big enough you can do some serious writing at 165 x 210.
Model #882 has 120 pages/60 sheets of paper; model #883 is larger with 180 pages/90 sheets of paper. Each come in 5/5 grid or lined versions.
I keep one of the smaller notebooks in my camera bag for quick notes as we travel. The bound small booklets are better than the spiral one as they stand up with being pulled in and out of a camera bag. Once I return to the apartment or hotel at the end of the day I use the larger 17 x 22 cm journal.