Friday, 24 February 2012

Stationery Store Series: Brachard Papeterie and Pen Shop, Geneva

An impressive light fixture akin to a large sculptural exotic flower or fruit suspended from the coffered ceiling welcomes the punter who crosses the threshold of Brachard Papeterie in rue de la Corraterrie in central Geneva, Switzerland. This elegant illuminated ornament draws the eye to an upper level which encircles the ground floor and it’s accessible via an equally impressive and similarly elegant curved staircase. Dark wooden shelving full of paper goods at the ground floor is set against an orange background and the space is underlined by the black and gold ornate wrought iron balustrade of the staircase and upper level. Brachard Papeterie: enter the Swiss paper paradise.

Nicholas Brachard started the business in 1839 and moved to 6 Rue de la Corraterie in 1875. Brachard changed locations over the years moving back to Corraterie in 1938 and eventually becoming a paper mill producing quality office supplies. Today it is ran by the fifth and sixth generation of Brachards.

The ground floor has a large collection of notebooks and cards, while the upper level has colour-coded stationery, paper and envelopes, loose and boxed and made-to-order invitations. The basement is comprehensively stocked with office and school supplies. Among the brands in display are Moleskin, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, Clairefontaine lines, and Crown mill pads and envelopes. In contrast, to the Continental elegance of the ground and upper levels, the basement has a utilitarian industrial chic look with a blue floor and aluminium shelving.

The abundance of paper in different forms and shapes and the curved shape of the room make the pilgrim to this Mecca of stationery to wander continuously in the belief that every corner will reveal something new (it does). Exit the maze of paper via the Rossi self-adhesive labels section and enter the office supplies department where the same sturdy aluminium shelving is beautifully set against the building’s original stone wall. Exposed brickwork is contrasting with the neon-lighting tubes.

There is a collection of storage boxes, pens, staples, record cards, post-it notes, paper clips and such, including Coccoina glue paste and sticks so hard to get in the UK. The staff are very friendly and the Chip-and-Pin machine allows you to pay in GBP should you so choose.

The marvel that is Brachard does not stop in the Papeterie for next door in even more luxurious surroundings is the Brachard Pen Shop - Ecriture. As with all fountain pen shops there is an almost religious atmosphere in the place. Glass cabinets hold delectable arrays of fountain pens, including limited editions, illuminated and untouchable in their sacred repose. The floor is white-tiled and the displays a mix of dark and white-painted wood. The magnificent arched entrance and window fronts let the light in on all the Mont Blanc plumes.

Eyes are feasting on Stipula, Visconti, Pelikan Souverain, Cross, Cartier, Caran d’ Ache, Graf von Faber Castell, Majesty, Dupont. On special display cases stand the Sailor 100th Anniversary fountain pen, the Visconti Declaration of Independence, Mont Blanc Ingrid Bergman, Tibaldi for Bentley, Mont Blanc Alfred Hitchcock, Waterman Sérénité Air.

A wooden stand furnished with ink pot and paper invites interested parties to test the pens. The pen on offer: Pilot Vanishing Point. On the paper a printed reminder: “Don’t forget to write.” Brachard is an unforgettable stationery and pen Mecca for inkthusiasts in the heart of Geneva. It trades online at as well but nothing compares to experience of the real thing - l'ambiance, as the Swiss say, of Brachard.

10 Corraterie 1204 Geneva
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 9 – 18:30; Sat 9:30 – 17:30; Sun (winter) 9:30 – 18:00


  1. Wow, a very impressive retailer!

  2. It never ceases to amaze me that these European Merchants can stay in business with such short opening hours. I bet they would love to extend the hours, but can't do to some Government or Union rules.

  3. Anonymous, I think you're right about some regulatory apparatus governing retail hours, at least in some parts of Europe, if my memory's okay. The hours don't look that constrictive to me. Until maybe the late 1960s, the two major department stores in my community in the States kept hours roughly the same as Brachard. I'm not sure the decisions made by American retailers to extend hours were made all that enthusiastically either. We've had two nearby gas (petrol) station-convenience stores end their midnight shifts because of very modest sales the owner believed were cannibalized from other shifts anyway.

    I tapped into Brachard's Web site. What startled me was the Google translation (my French is less than minimal). Some of the English still looked as though it had been quarried from a dictionary with explosives, but most all of it was readable, some of it idiomatic. My understanding is these translation programs originated in cryptography and cryptanalysis--spy stuff. Does anyone have any thoughts about this instant translatability?

    Thanks for these views, Palimpsest. Jack/USA

  4. Gorgeous - you are so lucky to have visited this beautiful store.

  5. Julie, you're right, Palimpsest's wonderful photos have me drinking an aperitif somewhere and thinking about . . . uh, respectable, middle-class stuff.

    I had to scratch my head. Brachard's utilitarian basement and finished upper floors was the pattern for full-service American department stores, too. My local department stores were piles of terrazzo, brass fittings, veneers, and decorative glass up top, and below, in the bargain basement, a plain floor (painted cement?) and stripped-down product displays jammed more tightly than above.

  6. Hi I would like to know if they sell wall paper sticker there too. Thanks

  7. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. Thank you so much.