The GR5 Trail

Through the French Alps from Lake Geneva to Nice

By Paddy Dillon

An essential guidebook for walking the GR5 trail, 660km from Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) to Nice or Menton, through the French Alps. Includes all the main variant routes as it passes Mont Blanc, then through the Vanoise, the Queyras and the Mercantour National Parks. Includes accommodation, profiles and maps. Suitable for fairly experienced hikers.



The GR5 is primarily a summer trek: starting too early or late in the season may lead to problems with snow, and mountain huts may be closed. The French summer holiday runs from mid-July to mid-August: this coincides with the best weather, but accommodation will be busy.


Geneva; Chamonix; Modane; Briançon; Nice


Despite its length, and despite crossing the Alps, the GR5 is no more than a long mountain walk, paths are well-graded and the route can be varied from 645-725km (400-450 miles)
Must See

Must See

One of Europe's best Alpine treks, and becoming increasingly popular Cross the Alps from Lac Leman to Nice 10,000 people walk the route each year, in whole or in part Third edition of this established guide Includes variant routes such as the GR55 through Vanoise National Park, and the GR52 through Mercantour National Park
7 Jan 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 2.1cm
  • Overview

    An essential guidebook for walking the GR5, one of the world's most spectacular long-distance trails. The GR5 makes its way through the Alps from the shores of Lac Léman at Geneva to the Mediterranean at Nice. A route of 674km (420 miles), it can be trekked in a month, or split over a series of summer trips. The GR5 is well within the reach of fit and moderately experienced walkers and backpackers. There is good signposting and waymarking, and accommodation, food and drink are all available at regular intervals. The paths and tracks are generally well graded, while steep climbs are tackled on zigzag paths, so the overall gradient is not so severe. Every summer, thousands of walkers embark on this trek.

    This guidebook also describes some scenic variant routes, including the stunning GR55 through the Vanoise National Park and the delightful GR52 that crosses the Mercantour National Park. Full descriptions and maps are provided for these alternatives. The book includes daily stages, timings, ascents and descents, full-colour mapping and gradient profiles, alongside information about facilities and services along the route. The result is an ideal companion to planning and completing your trek.

  • Contents

    Walking the GR5
    Alpine Traverses
    Who Walks the GR5?
    Route Outline
    GR5 Geology
    Alpine Flowers
    Alpine Wildlife
    Alpine Farming
    Travel to the Alps
    Travel Around the Alps
    Services on the GR5
    Food and Drink
    Path Conditions
    Alpine Weather
    When to Walk the GR5
    Kit Check
    Currency and Costs
    Key Points
    STAGE 1 La Léman to Les Houches
    Day 1 St Gingolph to La Chapelle d’Abondance (direct route)
    Day 1 Thonon-les-Bains to Chevenoz (alternative Day 1)
    Day 2 Chevenoz to La Chapelle d’Abondance (alternative Day 2)
    Day 3 La Chapelle d’Abondance to Chésery
    Day 4 Chésery to Samoëns
    Day 5 Samoëns to Refuge de Moëde Anterne
    Day 6 Refuge de Moëde Anterne to Les Houches
    STAGE 2 Les Houches to Landry
    Day 7 Les Houches to Les Contamines
    Day 7a Les Houches to Les Contamines (high-level route)
    Day 8 Les Contamines to Plan de la Lai
    Day 9 Plan de la Lai to Landry
    STAGE 3 Landry to Modane
    GR5 Route
    Day 10 Landry to Refuge d’Entre-le-Lac
    Day 11 Refuge d’Entre-le-Lac to Val d’Isère
    Day 12 Val d’Isère to Bessans
    Day 13 Bessans to Refuge du Plan du Lac
    Day 14 Refuge du Plan du Lac to Le Montana
    Day 15 Le Montana to Modane/Fourneaux
    GR55 High-level route (Refuge d’Entre-le-Lac to Modane)
    Day 11 Refuge d’Entre-le-Lac to Refuge d’Entre Deux Eaux
    Day 12 Refuge d’Entre Deux Eaux to Roc de la Pêche
    Day 13 Roc de la Pêche to Modane/Fourneaux
    GR5E Low-level route (Bonneval-sur-Arc to Modane)
    Day 13 Bonneval-sur-Arc to Lanslevillard
    Day 14 Lanslevillard to Bramans
    Day 15 Bramans to Modane/Fourneaux
    STAGE 4 Modane to Ceillac
    Day 16 Modane/Fourneaux to Refuge du Thabor
    Day 17 Refuge du Thabor to Plampinet
    Day 17a La Vallée Étroite to Plampinet (GR5B alternative)
    Day 18 Plampinet to Briançon
    Day 18a Névache to Briançon (GR5C alternative)
    Day 19 Briançon to Brunissard
    Day 20 Brunissard to Ceillac
    STAGE 5 Ceillac to Auron
    Day 21 Ceillac to La Barge/Maljasset
    Day 22 La Barge/Maljasset to Larche
    Day 23 Larche to Bousieyas
    Day 24 Bousieyas to Auron
    STAGE 6 Auron to Nice – GR5
    Day 25 Auron to Refuge de Longon
    Day 26 Refuge de Longon to St Dalmas
    Day 27 St Dalmas to Utelle
    Day 28 Utelle to Aspremont
    Day 29 Aspremont to Nice
    STAGE 7 St Dalmas to Garavan/Menton – GR52
    Day 27 St Dalmas to Le Boréon
    Day 28 Le Boréon to Refuge de Nice
    Day 29 Refuge de Nice to Refuge des Merveilles
    Day 30 Refuge des Merveilles to Camp d’Argent
    Day 31 Camp d’Argent to Sospel
    Day 32 Sospel to Garavan/Menton

    Appendix 1 Route Summary – North to South
    Appendix 2 Route Summary – South to North
    Appendix 3 Accommodation List
    Appendix 4 Basic French for the GR5

  • Updates
    Receive updates by email
    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    Sept 2018

    Day 19 - Yurt accommodation is available at La Yourte des Ayes, tel 07 68 40 15 85, between the Chalets des Ayes and Chalets de Vers le Col.

    April 2018

    Accommodation changes

    Day 19 - Shortly before reaching Brunissard, Camping l'Izoard offers a range of camping options, food and drink, tel 06 33 33 98 12.

    April 2017

    Accommodation changes

    Day 1 - Novel - The telephone numbers of the Hotel Le Clozet are now 04 50 70 67 62 and 06 42 10 84 91.

  • Reviews
    An ideal companion for an alpine trek on the GR5.
    The author of Cicerone's Trekking the GR5 Trail is none other than Paddy Dillon, a prolific writer of guidebooks, who has written 30 books for Cicerone. Obviously writing walking guides means that Paddy is also an experienced walker and indeed he has walked all of Britain's National Trails at some point; so you know you're in safe hands with his guidance.
    Paddy begins the book by reassuring the readers that "every summer thousands of walkers embark on this trek ... and complete the journey without any problems" and "that the route .. is one that can be completed by averagely fit, experienced hill walkers." He goes on to amusingly describe the different type of characters and family groups that you may come across on walking the GR5, clearly remembering his own experiences. He makes more reassurances with regard to attempting the GR5 Trail: "on a clear day .. a half hour flight between Geneva and Nice reveals the whole route, with its long valleys and convenient passes between high mountains" and describes how the route can be broken up into stages.
    The introduction has all the useful information you would expect from a Cicerone guidebook, including geology, flora and fauna, kit and what to do in an emergency. There's some useful jogs to your memory of things you may not know or not thought of in terms of trip preparations. The Trail is broken up into up to 32 day stages with various alternative routes. The guidebook describes some scenic variant routes, including the stunning GR55 through the Vanoise National Park and the delightful GR52 that crosses the Mercantour National Park.
    If you are accustomed to the Cicerone style of layout you'll be pleased to see that this is no different. Each day has the distance, ascent, descent, time, map required, nature of terrain, food and drink and accommodation at the beginning as well as a separate walk summary followed by the walk description. As usual the additional details or descriptions of views are added in the margin leaving the walking description uncluttered by its addition. Each day's walk is also further broken down with timings, very useful as a check to where you are or should be by a certain time, although as Paddy points out, the timings are to some extent meaningless as there will be walkers who go faster than others, but "use them as a guide while assessing your progress."
    There are many photographs in the book, in fact on nearly every other page, along with snippets of maps which include all the place names mentioned in the descriptions, so there is plenty of reference information to check your location and progress. The appendix has a route summary, useful for planning especially with a south to north route as well as the north to south. Plus also there's an accommodation list and some basic French.
    If you are ever buying a walking guidebook, it is usually preferable to purchase an up to date version in case of route changes. Cicerone's website will also have updates when changes are known to them. This is a 2016 edition which has been fully updated. In this guidebook, Paddy Dilllon follows the usual successful Cicerone template and in his walking guide gives a lightness of touch which gives just enough opinion and personal description where it matters combined with those all important factual pointers to keep you on track.
    High Mountain Holidays, March 2016

    How lucky is Paddy Dillon? Not only does he get to write guidebooks about his travels but he gets to revisit and update those guides. In this third edition, which I'm guessing is Paddy's third traverse of the GR5, he gets to refine his already excellent guide. The style of the guidebook has remained the same; if it's not broken, why fix it?

    Irish Mountain Log, Spring 2016

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Paddy Dillon

Paddy Dillon is a prolific walker and guidebook writer with over 90 guidebooks to his name, and contributions to 40 other titles. He has written extensively for several outdoor magazines and other publications and has appeared on radio and television. Paddy is an indefatigable long-distance walker who has walked all of Britain’s National Trails and several European trails. He has also walked in Nepal, Tibet, Korea, Africa and the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the US. Paddy is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and President of the Backpackers Club.

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