Review: Clairefontaine Basic Notebook

Nothing makes a review harder than trying to write about something that’s high quality. I’m staring at this Clairefontaine Basic notebook on my desk and I’m tempted to make this review as complex as “It has Clairefontaine paper. You know what to expect.” and call that good. But alas, I think I’m supposed to say a few more words than that.

Clairefontaine Basic

The picture you’re looking at above this sentence is the Clairefontaine Basic notebook. I think Basic is a good name for it although at first glance you don’t see “basic”. When I think “basic” I think about the Mead single subject notebooks I used in school. I suppose putting this next to the Quo Vadis Habana or the Rhodia WebNotebook might force you to focus on the “basic” Basic but we’re not going to do that here. Instead, I’ll just run over the basics (yes, pun intended) of this notebook.

The Basic has nice textured hardboard covers with a raised Clairefontaine logo in the bottom right hand corner. It might not be super fancy but I think it looks great. It’s low key yet a lot better looking than a lot of other notebooks. Besides, I don’t think we buy notebooks for their looks… do we? Oh maybe we do and if that’s the case, this is a handsome notebook so you should be delighted. It’s also nice and flexible as I shall now demonstrate in the ever classic “bent notebook” picture.

Clairefontaine Basic flexibility

Perhaps the “basic” name comes from the binding, unlike everything else I’ve held in my hands that came from Exaclair, this notebook has a cloth binding. I don’t know that I own any other notebooks with this kind of binding, in fact I know I don’t. The beauty of this type of binding is the flexibility that allows the notebook to open flat on your desk. I think we all know the pain of dealing with a bound notebook that doesn’t lie flat. Basic yet functional, no complaints there.

Clairefontaine Basic binding

And now we’re at the part of the review where one would typically scribble some random gibberish on a page and take a picture of it. Well guess what, I’m throwing that part out the window. This is a notebook made by Clairefontaine so I think you know what paper it uses. All you have to do is open the cover and caress a sheet to know it’s going to be a delight. I’m so confident it’s going to be an absolute dream to write in, I’m not even going to try. It’s Clairefontaine! Why bother? I’d bet we see the Lions in the Super Bowl before you find yourself disappointed with the 90g Clairefontaine paper inside these covers. It has the same amazingly bright white color you are familiar with in the Rhodia pads. The line spacing’s the same as well and the lines are just a bit brighter blue.

Clairefontaine Basic paper

Let me break it down to you. If you’re picky about your notebooks and you want something light years ahead of the stuff you’ll find at your local drugstore, go get yourself a Clairefontaine Basic. It’s 192 pages of pure Clairefontaine bliss and if you’ve touched anything with Clairefontaine, you know I’m not exaggerating.

And now I must get back to my NaNoWriMo writing! And you need to go shopping for a Clairefontaine Basic.

3 thoughts on “Review: Clairefontaine Basic Notebook

  1. I’ve been using the A4 version of this notebook for almost two years now, for my work notes. It is quite good. The paper is probably among the best for fountain pens. It has been kicked around in backpacks, data centers, and desks, the edges are a bit dirty, but it has held up tremendously well. It was dropped once, and caused some damage. Packing tape re-enforces the binding.

    The cloth binding is nice in that it does lay flat. This is good in most journals. For my purposes (capturing meeting notes, getting odd details in the field, etc.), I’ll likely look for a spiral bound notebook (to allow me to fold it back on itself).