One question readers always ask revolves around this paper, which makes semi-regular appearances on The Gentleman Stationer. For the record, it’s Clairefontaine “French-ruled”, sometimes referred to as “Seyes-ruled,” which is used in the French school system to teach handwriting. The dark blue horizontal lines are supposed to be used like the ruling on regular ruled notebook paper, with the lighter horizontal lines and vertical "grid" intended to maintain consistent height and spacing of your letters. The Wonderpens blog has a great article on how to use Seyes paper as it was traditionally intended.
Personally, I like this paper because it can be used like graph or dot grid paper. You can use the bold lines to write fairly large, or you can use the smaller lines for writing small. It’s highly versatile, plus it looks cool.
That’s not the main reason I use this paper, however. On the whole, graph and dot grid paper are probably more practical. I enjoy breaking out the Clairefontaine French-ruled paper every once in a while because it reminds me of when I was living in France during college, and I first started to really enjoy fine stationery and writing supplies. This paper was everywhere, and it was, by far, the best writing paper I had ever used. After that, when I could find it, I’ve always kept a steady supply on hand, even if it meant carting back overweight suitcases stuffed full of notebooks from Europe.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
Clairefontaine makes some of the best paper you can buy for fountain pens, and it works great with other wet writers such as rollerballs that tend to bleed through thinner paper. The main drawback to Clairefontaine paper is that it’s coated and non-absorbent, so the dry time can be somewhat long. I’ve found this issue to be most pronounced with highly saturated inks that contain lots of dye, as well as lubricated inks such as the Noodler’s “Eel” series. Inks such as these can still smear days later, though you’ll have the same problem on other non-absorbent papers such as Rhodia or Tomoe River.
Clairefontaine paper is available in a variety of sizes, including writing pads, spiral bound notebooks, top-bound notebooks, and even looseleaf paper. The notebooks and writing pads are the easiest to find in the U.S. (The pack of "looseleaf" paper pictured here, which contains 200 sheets folded into two-page booklets, was carted back from Europe.) My personal favorites are the Side Wirebound A5 Notebook and the Side Clothbound Notebook, the latter of which tends to sell out in A5 but is also available in the larger A4. I recently restocked my notebooks at the Atlanta Pen Show when Vanness showed up with a large stock of the spiral A5.
Vanness carries a large selection of Clairefontaine products on their website, with prices generally ranging from $5-$15 per notebook, making Clairefontaine fairly economical for high-end paper. The combination of price and quality makes it a go-to recommendation for both new and experienced fountain pen users looking to improve the quality of their everyday writing paper.
Disclaimer: Vanness Pens is a paid sponsor of this blog, and I received a discount on the purchase of this notebook at the Atlanta Pen Show.