Travel Sketching/Journaling Books from France

One of the highlights of my Paris trip last June was the ongoing search for books on travel sketching (carnet de voyage aka carnet de voyages aka carnets des voyages). Books on how to keep such a sketchbook, as well as all kinds of travel sketchbook/journal reproductions, are quite popular in France and large bookstores have entire sections devoted to carnets de voyages.

I spent an entire morning in FNAC, sitting on the carpet, pouring through book after book. Pure heaven for me! And, although it was hard to choose I did end up bringing back eleven books. Most are travel sketchbook reproductions, but my favorite finds are the three how-to books shown below.

Click on the images below to see larger versions,
and on the titles for links to

image image image

Créez et Composez
Votre Carnet de Voyages

Créer son Carnet de Voyage

Carnets de Voyages

Luckily, one does not need an extensive comprehension of written French to understand these books; you can figure out most of the content from the pictures alone. They each have a different style, but in general include tips for
drawing, watercolor, collage and adding text, with emphasis on creating a personal record rather than an artistically impressive result.

There are few books written in English about keeping travel sketchbook/journals (but there are some; I’ll be posting about my overall favorites soon). Are these French books earth-shatteringly great? Probably not, but they are precious to me because they are not something I can find at home.

Update: See sample pages from these books in this post.

12 Responses to “Travel Sketching/Journaling Books from France”

  1. Arturo Says:

    Also, for those who don’t speak french I can recommend Richard Schilling’s “Watercolor Journeys-Create your own travel sketchbook” which is in my humble opinion as good as Isy Ochoa’s “Carnet du Voyage”. Here is the link in Amazon.

  2. Arturo Says:

    I’ve been a big fan of your page for a long time and I hardly write anything on blog pages but you deserve a big thank you for all the information you have posted. My sketchbook is looking better and better everyday thanks to you and other people who have been generous enough to share their knowledge.

    I got Isy Ochoa’s “Creer Son Carnet du Voyage” in France on a collector’s book shop in Place D’Italy, it was not easy to find but I was lucky enough to get a copy. I cannot thank you enough for pointing me towards this source of information. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. Trumpetvine Travels » Blog Archive » More on French Travel Sketching Books Says:

    […] Travel Sketching/Journaling Books from France One Hundred Bottles of Wine on the Wall […]

  4. martha Says:

    Oh, I’d love to know where that shop is! Although, it may be awhile before I get back to Paris.

    I have had good luck ordering from,, and with airmail shipping to California. I have ordered several times from each and in all cases received the books in about a week. Of course YMMV, as they say.

  5. Faith Says:

    There is a small bookshop in the 7th arrondissement (just off the rue Cler, I think) that seems to specialize in these books, but I have lost the card for the shop. I bought several travel sketchbooks there, and if I could have schlepped about 40 more home with me, I would have. Does anybody know the store?

    Also, a friend has had very bad experiences with–just FYI. They apparently send books to the US via boat mail or some such nontrackable method. She’s paid and never received. Heads up!

  6. martha Says:

    Linda in KS:

    I am so glad you are enjoying your rebound Moleskine! Mine is a muse for me also, like a friend even. Isn’t that odd? And, the size is perfect in my hand. Some people find hot press paper harder to paint on than cold press, because it tends to “bloom” more easily, but I love it.

  7. martha Says:

    Regarding scanning some pages:

    I didn’t do so because I wasn’t sure about copyright issues, but one page from each book should be OK. I will look into this tonight.

  8. martha Says:

    Regarding ordering from

    I should emphasize that these books are not better than the few available in English, but if you are like me and already own all of those these could be fun.

    It is very easy to order from The prices are similar to, but you do pay more for shipping if you live in the US. There are many currency converters on the web, here for example. is laid out exactly like, and I think your login will even work there. If you are familiar with, you can probably navigate without any extra help, but you can also run them each in a window or tab and follow along with both through the ordering process for guidance.

    I have also successfully ordered Japanese books from and I don’t know Japanese at all. And, has some interesting and different selections as well.

    And by the way, a helpful way to navigate web pages in languages you don’t read is with Babel Fish. However, it breaks down under Flash or heavy JavaScript, so won’t work with all sites and won’t get you through an ordering process.

  9. Linda in KS Says:

    OOO OOO these are beautiful!!! It would be so fun to peek inside! If you ever want to, you ought to scan 1 page from each book – your favorite – just so that us poor peasants can see inside! I know, I know, lots of work on your part. I can dream, can’t I?

    Just wanted to let you know as a side note – that weekly moleskine I rebound as per your instructions has become my new-found muse. I just love the paper and the size. I’ve never painted on hotpress paper before and it’s just yummy! Not as intimidating as cold press to me for some reason. Maybe because it feels just like normal paper (only heavier), therefore, doesn’t feel as intimidating. Anyway, thanks again for posting those directions!

  10. Linda Says:

    These books are wonderful!! I cant understand the money diffrence living in the states is there a money converter? Will want to buy these is it hard to buy from amazon fr ? Please let me know about how to order. I can imagine you sitting there and going through all those books very exciting I’d say what a wonderful memory for you.

  11. Katherine Says:

    I look for art books and sketchbooks every time I go to France but have not had a lot of luck finding good bookshops or art shops.

    Thanks for this – they look interesting.

  12. Bill (wp3) Says:

    Never thought about the French having books on sketchbooking, but of course they do.
    What a marvelous trip for you. At my age (older!) I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to France or Spain or Italy or … I wouldn’t mind spending 6 months to a year wandering around such history-laden places, with a backpack, sketch kit (I’m armed to the teeth with outdoor gear now!). Thanks for sharing some of the flavor of France. Looking forward to the ones in English.

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