Clairefontaine Classic 3-Hole Punch Notebook Review

(Clairefontaine Classic 3-hole punch notebook)

Clairefontaine notebooks are well known for their exceptional paper quality. Even if you feel that these notebooks don’t look like much from the outside, it’s what is on the inside that really counts when it comes to your writing experience.

The 90g paper inside these notebooks boasts an exceptionally smooth satin finish and is bright white thanks to the calcium carbonate used in the manufacturing process. Clairefontaine manufactures their own paper from pulp and wood by-products from forests certified by PEFC to be sustainably managed. Clairefontaine is committed to minimizing their impact on the environment so their paper is chlorine-free, acid-free, pH neutral and is printed with natural inks.

Many writers who use fountain pens loyally use Clairefontaine paper because they feel that it is ideal for their writing needs! This fabulous paper eliminates or reduces troubles with ink that may feather or bleed through other types of paper and you can write on both sides of the page. The smoothness of the paper makes writing a dream! You can check out the performance of this paper by taking a look at the scanned writing samples below.

(Clairefontaine Classic 3-hole punch notebook paper fits inside a standard American 3-ring binder)

There are a few features that make the Clairefontaine Classic Notebook with the 3-hole punch stand out from other Clairefontaine notebooks. Since Clairefontaine is a European brand, most of their notebooks and paper products are metric sizes and might be a little different than what we are used to here in the USA. The Classic 3-hole punch notebook is standard American letter size – 8 1/2” x 11”. The 3-hole punch is sized to fit American 3-ring binders perfectly so you don’t need a special European binder to use this paper. Each page is microperforated so it can cleanly and easily be removed from the wire binding. In addition, most large size side wire bound or side staple bound Clairefontaine notebooks contain 48 or 50 sheets of paper. The Classic 3-hole punch notebook contains a generous 90 sheets of paper so it can carry you through a lot of note taking.

(Clairefontaine 90g paper writing test – front)

(Clairefontaine 90g paper writing test – back)

Clairefontaine Classic 3-hole punch notebook features include:

  • Ultra-smooth bright white 90g Clairefontaine paper
  • Excellent performance with fountain pens
  • 3 hole punched to fit standard American 3-ring binders
  • Each page is microperforated so it can cleanly be removed from the notebook
  • Lined with margin – lines are spaced 8mm apart
  • Acid-free, pH neutral, PEFC certified paper
  • Contains 90 sheets
  • Laminated heavy stock cover
  • Variety of abstract cover designs and colors changes over time
  • Side double wire spiral binding
  • Standard American letter size: 8 1/2” x 11”

If the Clairefontaine 3-hole punch notebook is just what you are looking for and you want to stock up, Writer’s Bloc offers an additional discount for a set of 5 notebooks.

Do you use Clairefontaine notebooks too? Why would you recommend them to other writers?

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White Paper Habana Journals vs. New Ivory Paper Habana Journals

It has already been about a year since the Quo Vadis Habana Journals containing ivory paper were introduced to us here in the USA. How do these new Habana journals compare to the original Habana journals with white paper? It seems that the original Quo Vadis quality has not been compromised and many writers are still very happy with the performance of the new Habana Journal.

Things that remain the same:

  • The cover design and materials
  • Elastic closure
  • Ribbon bookmark
  • Pocket inside the back cover
  • The sewn binding
  • Sizes
  • Number of sheets (80) in the large Habana
  • Small Habana is still narrow ruled
  • Lined and blank paper options
  • Paper is still acid-free, pH neutral
  • Paper is still made by Clairefontaine and has an exceptionally smooth satin finish

Things that have changed:

  • Paper color is now ivory instead of white
  • Paper weight in the large Habana is now 85g instead of 90g
  • Paper weight in the small Habana is now 85g instead of 64g
  • Number of sheets in the small Habana is now 80 instead of 96
  • Paper is narrow ruled the large Habana
  • Lines on the paper no longer go all the way to the edge
  • Lines are now dotted so they are more subtle
  • New for 2012 – black, blank paper Habana in A4 size (approx. 8.25” x 11.75”)

It’s nice to see that the small Habana got an upgrade to 85g paper! I really like the new dotted lines that don’t go all the way to the paper’s edge since they don’t dominate the page as much but are more of a subtle guideline. The narrow rules in the large Habana allow you to get a lot more writing onto each page. It’s exciting to have the option of a new large A4 size Habana Journal. Depending on the size of Habana Journal you use and the pen you like to write with, you might either see more or less writing that shows through to the other side of the page. Writers who love bright white paper are sad to see the change to ivory paper, but I personally like variety and like to have a mix of paper colors in my notebook and journal collection. Too bad we don’t have the option of choosing either white or ivory paper for our Habana Journals!

For those of you that prefer white paper, we still have a small selection of white paper Habana Journals left in stock. Get them while they last!

Do you use a Habana Journal? What do you think of the new Habana Journals with ivory paper? Would you use a Habana Journal in the new large A4 size?


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R by Rhodia vs Original Rhodia Notepads

R by Rhodia notepads are relatively new on the scene and have some Writers wondering, “What’s the difference between original Rhodia pads and the R by Rhodia pads?” Using the popular Rhodia Bloc No. 12 we will endeavor to show you some of the similarities and the differences of these two well-loved notepads.

The Cover

One of the first things you’ll notice is that the original Rhodia pad cover has a glossy coating, whereas the R by Rhodia cover has a matte finish that is velvety to the touch. R by Rhodia calls this a “soft-touch” cover.

The original Rhodia front cover logo is somewhat larger than the R by Rhodia logo. R by Rhodia has an additional “R” in the lower right part of the front cover that is included in a band of contrasting color that is also on the back cover. The back of each cover has additional details about each notepad and indicates that both of them are currently made in France.

Both original Rhodia and R by Rhodia have flexible covers that are available in either bright orange or black. The difference is that when you flip over the R by Rhodia cover the underside color contrasts with the exterior – the orange cover is black on the underside and the black cover is orange on the underside. I personally really like this feature. Both covers are strategically scored so that they can easily and neatly be flipped over to the back side of the notepad.

The Binding

Both notepads are top staple-bound and have a study piece of cardboard inside the back cover to add support while you’re writing. Both of them have microperforated pages that can neatly be removed if desired.

(Original Rhodia on the left, R by Rhodia on the right)

The Paper

The paper is really the biggest difference between these two notepads. Original Rhodia has white 80g paper with violet lines (with the exception of one large notepad with yellow paper), R by Rhodia has heavier 90g ivory high grade vellum paper with subtle grey lines (if there are any lines). Since R by Rhodia has a heavier weight of paper there are less pages in each notepad – the No. 12 size has 70 sheets compared to the 80 sheets in an original Rhodia pad.

Original Rhodia comes in graph, blank, lined and lined with margin. At the time of writing this blog post R by Rhodia comes in either lined or blank. The lined version of the notepads (shown here) both have lines spaced about 7mm apart. One of the original Rhodia pads is available with a 3 hole punch. Both types of paper are made by Clairefontaine and have a smooth finish that a lot of Writers with fountain pens really love!

The Size

At present, R by Rhodia comes in three different sizes: 3 3/8” x 4 3/4”, 6” x 8 1/4” and 8 1/4” x 11 3/4”. Original Rhodia pads are also available in these three sizes plus an additional nine sizes for a total of twelve different sizes.

Which notepad is best for you? That’s for you to decide. Why not mix it up and try one of each! One thing is for sure, a lot of Writers are very loyal to Rhodia! What’s your favorite Rhodia notepad?


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Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine

(Artwork by Marilyn Robertson)

Starting out as an art teacher in the U.K, artist Marilyn Robertson has become a household name with work that can be recognized by many worldwide. For Marilyn Robertson, experimentation is the key to her success. Her career as an artist began as an art teacher, her career as a business woman began by selling hand-painted greeting cards at craft fairs and then through her own business Paper Kite.

Marilyn not only ventured into the field of freelance design but also textile design, expanding her artistic talents to knit wear and lingerie. Marilyn’s greeting card designs have now been critically acclaimed and published worldwide by some of the world’s largest greeting card publishers in the U.S, England and Germany. Marilyn’s work has been featured internationally on greeting cards, textiles, stationary, ceramics, and knit kits! Still Marilyn’s greatest claim to fame is her art paintings. With her trademark style Marilyn creates coveted paintings that join harmony, dramatic colors and the delicate fluidity of life.

(Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson)

This year Clairefontaine and designer Marilyn Robertson came together to put a whole new meaning to the term "Feline Fancy." Implementing her trademark style, Robertson and Clairefontaine put the luxurious life of cats on paper. Clairefontaine "Catitudes" notebooks feature Robertson’s cover designs and include 90g acid-free Clairefontaine paper. These notebooks are simple, sophisticated and are a perfect gift for cat lovers!

Click here to learn more about Marilyn Robertson

(Catitudes Notebooks by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine)


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Les Cakes de Bertrand Paris

Established in 1998, Les Cakes de Bertrand is a inspiring story of humble beginnings and unpredictable business ventures. Dietician and avid cook, Didier Bertrand, began selling his signature savory cakes in the Port Royal Food Market in Paris, France in 1997. Not long after that, Bertrand met French designer Adolphe Besnard and the two joined forces to create what is today Les Cakes de Bertrand. The two opened a cake shop in Paris selling Bertrand’s savory cakes and chocolate bars. What set them apart? The packaging. Inspired by Besnard’s grandmother’s collection of old postcards, each creation was wrapped in eloquently designed packaging that would soon become the defining look of Les Cakes de Bertrand. Known for is modern design with a vintage flair, Les Cakes de Bertrand flourished.

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand Notebook – Eloise)

As the company began to grow Les Cakes de Bertrand entered into a new realm of retail, accessories! A delightful yet shocking surprise, Bertrand and Besnard ventured in to the fashion world. The signature Les Cakes de Bertrand designs were placed on handbags, wallets, pins, jewelry, soaps, perfumes, clothing, and handheld mirrors. Recently, Les Cakes de Bertrand partnered with the famed Clairefontaine to create a line of special limited edition products! Some of the notebooks and a correspondence set from the limited edition line can be found at Writer’s Bloc.

Les Cakes de Bertrand no longer sells cakes, but now has several boutiques in France that showcase their beautiful accessories. Their boutiques in themselves are a masterpiece, perfectly furnished with unique furniture and trinkets that make the store warm and inviting. If I ever have the opportunity to visit France, a stop at Les Cakes de Bertrand is a must!

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand Paris Correspondence Set)

(Information gathered from: Les Cakes de Bertrand and Retro To Go)

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Clairefontaine Courants d’Arts Limited Edition Notebooks

Clairefontaine Courants d’Arts collection of limited edition notebooks were created to honor three distinct styles of modern art: Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Although the artwork on the covers is not attributed to any artists in particular, it is easy to see that it strongly reflects masterpieces from Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock. Being a fan of modern art I was immediately drawn to the Courants d’Arts notebooks, and a brief review of art history on enhanced my appreciation of these major influences in modern art.

(Clairefontaine Courants d’Arts Pop Art Notebook)

With its bold bright colors and graphics the Courants d’Arts Pop Art Notebook was the first one to catch my eye (maybe I’ve been seeing a few too many movies recently). Pop Art originated in Great Britain and the USA in the 1950’s and employs aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects. Roy Lichtenstein became well known for incorporating elements of comic book art into such popular works such as Whaam! (1963) and Drowning Girl (1963). My favorite bit of information about him from Wikipedia is this story about his work Look Mickey (1961): “This piece came from a challenge from one of his sons, who pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic book and said; ‘I bet you can’t paint as good as that, eh, Dad?’ In the same year he produced six other works with recognizable characters from gum wrappers and cartoons.” Kids!

(Clairefontaine Courants d’Arts Abstract Expressionism Notebook)

Abstract Expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. Jackson Pollock is a well-known influential artist of this movement. He moved away from the tradition of painting on an easel and instead dripped and poured paint onto a canvas on the floor. This method made him feel as if he could literally be in the painting as he was working on it. Eventually Pollock discontinued using names as titles for his paintings and started numbering them instead. This way those viewing them would not have any preconceived ideas of what they were supposed to be looking for and could enjoy the artwork as pure painting.

(Clairefontaine Courants d’Arts Cubisme Notebook)

Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque who were living in Montmartre, Paris at the time. Wikipedia describes cubist artists this way: “they represented all the surfaces of depicted objects in a single picture plane, as if the objects had all their faces visible at the same time. This new kind of depiction revolutionized the way in which objects could be visualized in painting and art.” Cubism was particularly influential between 1907 and 1919 and was inspired by the boldness and simplicity of African, Micronesian and Native American art. Famous examples of cubist paintings include Pablo Picasso’s Le guitariste (1910) and Violin and Candlestick (1910) by Georges Braque.

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit one of the many influential art galleries and museums around the world, no doubt you have seen abundant examples of these three influential styles of modern art. What is your favorite? What kind of artwork would you like to see featured on future Clairefontaine limited edition notebooks?

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Get Organized with Multiple Subject Notebooks

(Clairefontaine Twinbook)

There are times when a good multiple subject notebook is a real asset to keeping well organized. At one time I was simultaneously working on a bathroom remodel, ideas for a website project and collecting information for a trip. Lots of note taking was happening, especially while shopping for bathroom fixtures, paints, etc. To keep my notes organized I used a medium sized notebook with 4 different sections marked by different paper colors. Rather than having multiple little slips of paper with random notes being misplaced never to be found again, this notebook helped me to keep things together and organized.

(Rhodia Bloc No. 120 Rainbow Pad)

Multiple subject notebooks have a multitude of purposes – taking notes for simultaneous projects, jotting down recipes under different categories, recording passwords (yeah, I know they aren’t supposed to be on paper), keeping track of notes taken during regular meetings with different people, writing down addresses and phone numbers, or even for a to-do list book where goals are organized into subjects such as school, family, work and personal life.  In school you can use them to put notes on related subjects into one book or to divide textbook notes from lecture notes. Having a multiple subject notebook can cut down on weight and confusion. I’m sure you can think of many other ways you can use these notebooks to help you stay organized and have everything you need in one book.

(Clairefontaine Large Multiple Subject Notebook)

Some multiple subject notebooks simply use tabs to divide the notebook into different sections. The Clairefontaine Twinbook is a good example of this. The right edges of the pages are cut to create two tabs so that the notebook is divided into two sections. A more complex series of tabs are cut into the large Clairefontaine A-Z notebook with a tab for each letter of the alphabet. Another notebook with tabs is the Clairefontaine multiple subject notebook. The large size has four tabbed sections, medium size has twelve tabbed sections and the small pocket size has eight tabbed sections.

(Rhodia 4 Color Book)

Other multiple subject notebooks use multiple page colors to distinguish different sections. The pages in the Rhodia 4 Color Book each have a band of bold color on the right and left edges to break the notebook up into four clearly marked sections. Rhodia also has the top stapled rainbow notepad with four different pastel colors of graph paper. I think the king of notebooks with multiple page colors has to be the Clairefontaine multiple subject notebook. As I already mentioned above, not only does it have the sections divided by index tabs it also has them distinguished by different pastel colors!

(Clairefontaine A4 French ruled paper for binders)

You can get Clairefontaine binder paper in packs with four different pastel colors of either graph or French ruled paper for free style organizing in a binder. Exacompta graph index cards are not notebooks but they are worth mentioning because they come in packs of four pastel colors plus white to create index card organization. These would have been quite useful for me in high school for a particular English class where we were required to use index cards to jot down facts (and their source) that might be used for essays. Any index cards with facts that we decided not to use in the actual essay were discarded, but the facts we included in the essay were saved and then the index cards were organized in the order the facts appeared in the essay. It made creating footnotes much easier (not that I appreciated this much at the time).

(Clairefontaine Basics Notebook with Pockets)

If you need to have organized notes while at the same time collecting receipts, notes or other pieces of paper, there’s a Clairefontaine notebook with pocket dividers! The three dividers each have pockets on both sides and divy up the notebook’s 60 sheets into four sections of 15 sheets each.

Do you use multiple subject notebooks? What’s your favorite? What do you use them for?

(Exacompta Index Cards)


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Best Sellers from Clairefontaine

New to Clairefontaine notepads and not sure where to start? Here is a list of our best selling Clairefontaine products that can help guide you to your perfect notebook!

Of the plethora of Clairefontaine notepads we carry at Writer’s Bloc, the #1 best seller is the large Clairefontaine wire-bound French ruled notebook. Even though French ruled paper is used daily by students in France and elsewhere, it is not widely available in the USA and many people have never heard of it. It has a unique line/grid system that can be used to format essays and practice handwriting and calligraphy. You can learn more about it here: What is French Ruled Paper? Clairefontaine French ruled paper can be found in both large and medium size wire-bound notebooks as well as in other styles of notebooks.

The Clairefontaine Multiple Subject medium size notebook is another one of our best sellers. In addition to sections of pages being defined by different colors of paper, tabs cut into the pages also help keep you and your work organized. The high quality graph paper is ideal for writing and drawing and is great for students, artists and anyone looking for a great organizing tool! Also available in large and small sizes.

If you are looking for a pocket-sized notebook try our best selling small staple-bound Clairefontaine notebook. These little gems are ideal for those who like to keep a notebook with them at all times since they are conveniently sized and will slip right into your pocket or purse. These notebooks also make for great party favors, throw them into goody bags or prize baskets and give your guests the gift of quality paper! Available individually or in a set of 10.

Another one of our best selling Clairefontaine notebooks is the classic Clairefontaine Basics cloth-bound large lined notebook. This notebook has a sewn binding so it opens flat, pages do not fall out, and there is no spiral wire to get in the way when you write! An added bonus is an elastic to keep the notebook securely closed. Available with Red, Black, Tan or Green covers.

What’s your favorite Clairefontaine notebook?


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Clairefontaine DCP Digital Color Printing Paper and Fountain Pens

Clairefontaine DCP Digital Color Printing Paper is made especially for printing or copying documents containing color images and makes it possible to obtain great color prints without using expensive glossy photo paper. How does it work when it is paired with fountain pens?

We have been using this paper a lot recently for making some fountain pen ink samples and wanted to share the results. In general, this paper works great with fountain pens, and as is typical of Clairefontaine paper, has little to no feathering, bleed through or show through of fountain pen ink. It would be great for use in a personal book binding project if you want to end up with a book that is fountain pen friendly.

This paper probably has a special coating on it that makes it especially good for color printing. When we used a cotton swab to put a heavy application of ink on the paper, every once in awhile this coating produced some interesting results with a few very specific kinds/colors of ink. At times there were a few tiny spots that seemed to repel the fountain pen ink slightly, resulting in some random small spots where the ink appeared to be a lighter color. Other times, the wide swab of ink on the page would not stay evenly distributed, with ink pooling up in some areas. In the past we experienced similar results with other high quality laser/ink jet printer paper and fountain pen ink. While these things did not happen very often, this paper may not be the best choice if you are planning to use a watercolor or ink wash on the paper. When we wrote with fountain pens we did not notice these problems at all.

Here are some writing samples showing both the front and back of the page:

Clairefontaine DCP Digital Color Printing Paper is available in the USA in packages of 100 sheets of A4 size white, 100g (27lb), acid-free, archival quality paper. Have you used this paper for any writing or book binding projects? What is your experience using it with fountain pens?

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Clairefontaine Trophee Paper

Technically, Clairefontaine Trophee Paper is a high quality paper made for copiers, laser printers and ink jet printers. However, because it is available in many pleasing colors, I wondered if I could use this with my fountain pens as stationery too.

I really like purple, so I chose the color lilac to give it a try. Trophee paper does not have the same super-smooth surface as regular 90g Clairefontaine writing paper. Even though it is different, I found it to be a nice quality surface for handwriting.

This paper is 80g so I wondered if some fountain pen ink might show through to the other side and I am really happy that it didn’t! None of the fountain pens and inks that I tried feathered or bled through the paper, but the Sharpie pen bled through the paper as it usually does. The Noodler’s Nightshade ink took awhile to dry on this paper so I ended up smearing it slightly.

Writer’s Bloc has imported this A4 size paper in three different colors: ivory, pearl grey and lilac.

I’m happy to have the lilac color Trophee paper for using my fountain pens to write an occasional note to friends or family. What’s your favorite color of paper for writing notes and letters?

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