Clairefontaine Triomphe paper review

Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Paper Review

John BosleyReviews 24 Comments

Some people like a little feedback from their paper when they write, while others prefer a very smooth writing experience. If you are one of the latter and have never used Clairefontaine Triomphe paper, that needs to change immediately. To say that this paper is smooth would be a big understatement. But other than being smooth, does it have anything else going for it? Let’s take a close look at Clairefontaine Triomphe paper today and see what it’s like.

First Impressions

As far as I know, Clairefontaine Triomphe is only sold in pads, so the first time you see yours it will look something like this:

Clairefontaine Triomphe paper pad

This is what the cover of the pad looks like.

The pad isn’t very fancy, but at the same time it certainly doesn’t feel cheap and flimsy. The paper is a nice, bright white and comes either blank or lined. This paper is made for letter writing, so don’t expect to find it in a notebook. If you do want a Clairefontaine notebook, I’d suggest you consider the Basic Clothbound.

The Details

Let’s look at a pad of Clairefontaine Triomphe and see some of the details

  • Pages: 50
  • Paper Weight: 90gsm
  • Binding: Glue (notepad)
  • Page Style: Lined (8mm), Blank
  • Size: A4, A5

Ink-handling characteristics (A table with the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)

  • Sheen: Average
  • Shading: High
  • Bleeding: Very Low
  • Ghosting: Low
  • Feathering: Very Low
  • Dry Time: High

Other features

  • Blank paper comes with a lined guide sheet
  • Bright white color
  • Matching envelopes are available
Clairefontaine Triomphe paper back of pad

Here are some of the details found on the back of the pad.

Actual Use

Since this paper does not come in notebooks, it is only available as a notepad. With all notepads, you’ll eventually need to remove the paper. The glue used to hold this pad together is very flexible and soft, making it very easy to remove each piece of paper from the pad. There aren’t many other features to discuss other than how the paper performs. With that in mind, let’s try it out!

As I mentioned, this paper is incredibly smooth. For some people, it may be too smooth, but I personally really enjoy writing on it. Nibs glide across it with little to no resistance. Even extra fine nibs, which I sometimes find a little too scratchy, feel fantastic on it.

How does it handle ink? Very well! It has slightly faster dry times and lower sheen than many fountain pen friendly papers, but that’s exactly what you want when writing letters so that your ink doesn’t smear. It also has fantastic shading. I didn’t see any feathering or bleed-through and ghosting is low enough that most people will be fine writing on both sides of a sheet. This is partly due to the paper weight, which is 90gsm. This slightly heavier than average paper also means the paper has a more substantial feel, which the recipient of your letters may notice.

Clairefontaine Triomphe paper tests front

Test sheet – Front

Clairefontaine Triomphe paper tests Back

Test sheet – Back

Ink also looks great on this paper. It has what I think of as a higher contrast, which means dark parts of ink look darker and light parts of ink look lighter. This really accentuates any shading that your ink may have and also makes colors pop. It may have something to do with the bright whiteness of this paper, but it also has to do with the qualities of the paper itself.

Clairefontaine Triomphe paper compared to tomoe river

While this image doesn’t do it justice, ink looks much better on Clairefontaine Triomphe than on Tomoe River paper.


If you write a lot of letters, this is a great paper option. Not only is it a pleasure to write on, but it makes your writing (or at least the ink you use) look very nice. With some sheen, great shading and more contrast than many papers, inks look fantastic. While you can get many different papers for letter writing, few (or maybe even none) are as smooth as this paper. Writing on it is an experience unto itself, so if you’re a fan of smooth papers, this one should be a must-try.

Clairefontaine Triomphe paper pad cover

Clairefontaine Triomphe is truly a wonderful paper for writing.

If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.

Interested in trying this paper before buying a pad? Head over to my shop and pick up a paper sample pack.

Clairefontaine Triomphe
  • Sheen (higher is better)
  • Shading (higher is better)
  • Bleeding (higher is better)
  • Ghosting (higher is better)
  • Feathering (higher is better)
  • Dry Time (higher is better)

Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating

Pros: Extremely smooth, handles ink well and makes it look great
Cons: Limited sizes and formats, maybe too smooth for some
Value Rating: 3.71 Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.10
Who this paper is for: Anyone who likes smooth paper and writes letters

Comments 24

  1. I love these tablets and there is a clear differentiator between this and the others and it’s that glued binding. Every page comes out clean with no ragged top edge. That is definitely not true for other quality tablets that have perforations to remove the page… and that’s a deal breaker for me.

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      Excellent point, Mark. I didn’t even think about how easy it is to remove the sheets, but this is definitely a feature that should be mentioned. I’ll go add it to the review right now. Thank you!

  2. Detailed and interesting post. I lived in France for decades and always appreciated availability of quality papers like Clairefontaine at reasonable prices. French students are taught from early grades to use “student” fountain pens for in-class and homework. Outlines of subject matter ware done in different colours— like red ink and blue. Even maths used pen as I recall. I don’t know if it has changed now but I suspect in the better city schools it is still the practice. A good discipline.

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      Thank you, Carol. At a pen show I recently attended, someone who was French talked about her children’s experience in both French and American schools and it sounds like they had a similar experience. They were taught to write cursive with fountain pens in Clairefontaine notebooks.

  3. I took 3 lined pads, carefully removed the pages from the glue top, and punched holes for a 5×8 binder to use for an upcoming writers workshop. So decadent compared to a regular writing pad!

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  4. I would normally use Rhodia but brought one of these to try and I love mine. It has a bit more sheen and a bit less bleed through than Rhodia pads in my experience.

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  5. I’ve used a fair bit of Clairefontaine paper and I love the quality but the one format I have the devil of a time finding is a wirebound, line A4 notebook. For the writing I do the A4 lined is the best. All I can find nowadays is Rhodia A4 wirebound pads which are great because they are just lined without headers, footers or margins
    If you have any suggestions John, I’d very much appreciate hearing them.

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      Geof, where do you live? I know that when I was in Paris there were Clairefontaine wirebound notebooks everywhere and I’m pretty sure they were A4-sized. I think all of the students use them. It’s not going to be the Triomphe paper, but it’s still the great Clairefontaine notebook paper. Outside of France, I’m afraid I can’t help, but I’ll keep it in mind when I’m looking around and see what I come across.

      1. Hi John, thanks for your reply. I’m in Canada so I buy mostly online. I know they wouldn’t be Triomphe paper but any Clairefontaine paper is great. The only real problem is find them without margins.

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          1. Hi John,
            This is so thoughtful of you and I really appreciate you taking the time to check and let me know. As I’m in South Carolina for another month I ordered a couple to save a few $$$ on international shipping 👍🇺🇸🇨🇦
            Again, thank you🙏🙏🙏

  6. As you said the ink looks great on that paper. Until I started using higher qualities of paper I was missing out on the color complexity and variation in the ink.

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  7. I have not yet used the Clairefontaine Triomphe paper, but I am going to order some from Goulet Pen Company with my next order in a couple of weeks. I have tried the Tomoe Rivers paper and I like it a lot!

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  8. Triomphe notebooks, note the stitched binding. Classy/retro stiff cover. Lines are bit far apart for me as I preferred quadrille. But the paper is FP friendly.

    Likely available in the US.

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