Clairefontaine A5 Dot Grid Notebook Review

Clairefontaine A5 Dot Grid Notebook Review

Upon unwrapping the Clairefontaine “My Essential” A5 notebook, I was wondering what I was going to write about.

It’s a pretty standard looking A5 notebook with a green, flexible card cover….. So where does it fit, in a market saturated with similar products.

Well…. I have two words for you. Bullet. Journalling.

The “buzzwords” of the stationary craze that has taken off in the 2010’s.

If you are unfamiliar with it, you just need to Google those words (or YouTube), to find a huge amount of creative content online around this notebook “system”. For me, I’ve looked at it, but it has always seemed a little too much effort and never quite fit into my daily flow – Not to mention I’m no where near as artistic as a lot of these people, and I’d end up with BuJo envy…….

But…. If we have a look at why the Clairefontaine notebook would be good, we’ll quickly see some things that BuJo users love.

Numbered pages – Check.
A5 size – Check
8 Perforated sheets at the back – Check
8 Contents pages – Check
Fountain Pen friendly paper – Check
2 Storage holders – Check

It’s pretty much designed for this very specific reason, whilst still being subtle enough that anyone can use it as notebook.

Now, despite all of these features, I’ll start with a negative (in my eyes), although this will very likely be a positive in others.

If I’m using an A5 notebook, I like a hard cover. Or at least something that feels like it’ll last forever, and survive the constant bashing around in my bag. I don’t always get through A5 notebooks particularly quickly, so it’ll have to stand up to the test of time, and I’m just not comfortable with the flexible card covering on the Clairefontaine.

It also means that when laying the book flat, the side which has the least amount of pages on, always hovers at an angle, rather than laying flat. A problem for all soft back notebooks, but one which has a tendency to irk me.

That’s not to say the soft card cover isn’t durable – It certainly feels durable and has a plasticy/rubber texture to it which looks like it should hold up. I’ve not seen any complaints about this, so my guess is that it’ll be fine if you don’t mind the other issues of a soft back cover.

Texture of the front cover

Onto more positive things, and 99% of the notebook’s importance comes down to the paper….. I’m pleased to say that it is a winner!

90gsm ivory paper with a smooth satin finish feels nice. It’s just a touch thinner than the Dingbats notebooks (which are 100gsm), but all in all, it performs well.

I’ve tested it with a few fountain pens and there is no bleed through and only a small amount of ghosting – Not enough to worry about, and it’s still perfectly fine to use both sides of the page.

The paper is lovely and smooth, and the dot grid manages to blend into the background perfectly – There if you need it, but invisible if you don’t.

The numbered pages are a welcome addition, and really help with keeping track of things, especially if you take advantage of the contents pages.

Contents pages

Personally, all of the good features don’t do enough to make up for the lack of hard cover for me.

But, it’s priced competitively at £13.50 and will certainly hit the sweet spot for many people – Especially those Bullet Journal enthusiasts.

You can pick them up from everyone’s favourite notebook shop – Nero’s Notes


I was sent this product for free, for an unbiased review. I’ll always be honest, and if something ins’t up to scratch, I’ll say so.

This article contains affiliate links where I’ll earn a small commission for each purchase.

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