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Cannes

Next door to Puyricard, purveyors of Provençal chocolate on Rue Belges, in between the Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, is Maison Franco, a well-stocked art supplies shop. Of interest to aspiring calligraphers would be an assortment of nibs, nib holders, notebooks with fine-grade paper (such as the Essential Notebook by L’Atelier du Papier), and Talens’ Ecoline liquid watercolors. I bought a Winsor & Newton traveling set with a built-in water container. Failing to produce anything that could remotely be called art, I can at least fill it with single-malt Scotch and behave like an artist.

A couple of minutes’ walk from Maison Franco is a French bookstore, with notebooks and pens on the upper floor. They have a selection of Moleskines, Habana, and Paperblanks, plus Rhodia and Clairefontaine pads and notebooks. There’s an itty-bitty Parker and Waterman booth. In the back of the same floor is art supplies (including calligraphy brushes), G. Lalo correspondence paper, and the last dregs of tester ink in three J. Herbin bottles.

Monoprix, my savior (they were open until 7:30!), had the Forever Forest line of recycled paper notebooks and pads, in addition to the Clairefontaine Triomphe line. I found a cute Pilot Pluminix, which is like a Pilot calligraphy pen made stubbier to appeal to a younger market.

Cannes is not a place to buy pens.

Unless you really really really want a Lamy or an Omas Briarwood. Then head to Graphein. It’s one of Les Boutiques de Gray Street, a row of indoor shops beside the Gray d’Albion hotel, where I spent two weeks of my life. It’s a good thing I only found it on my second to the last day in Cannes. Otherwise the salesperson and I would have been great friends. I bought three bottles of ink (branded Bethge, but manufactured by J. Herbin) and a leather-covered notebook.

Paris

Styl’Honoré is on Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré. They have a wide merchandise mix, from school ballpoints to Taccia. What I really wanted to buy was their Cocktail ink. I chose Noir diamant, Coucher de Soleil, Poudre d’Iris and Velours Blue. They come in 75 ml bottles, and can be diluted with water.

Mora Stylos is on Rue de Tournon, which is a short walk from the Odeon Metro stop. (For people with blisters, it’s closer to a death march.) When I went in, I almost stumbled on a huge vacuum cleaner in the middle of the shop. I was that early. The Oldwins were to my left, and I didn’t even bother to look at the other modern pens they had in stock. I spared long looks for the vintage pen selection. They had a delicious Waterman safety. And a pre-owned Sailor Susutake Ito Maki, which used to be my holy grail pen but has fallen from its pedestal because it is simply too huge for my hand. But self-discipline carried the day.

I tried several Oldwin models, picked the Classic in red ebonite, and paid for it with a gulp and a prayer.

On the way back to the Metro stop I passed by Duriez and came away with even more notebooks. So the night before I left Paris, I jettisoned two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans and a lot of tops to stay under the 30 kg baggage allowance. Notebooks and ink are more important than silly old clothes.

Oh, and just in case you think I’m insane, there are other people like me in Manila. In fact, we’re having a pen meet this Saturday. Do email me for details if you want to come along.

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