GR5 Trail Information



Trekking The GR5 Trail by Paddy Dillon

The is the main guide we used throughout the trip. It breaks the trek into daily stages which makes the trek look easily achievable however when your carrying  full wild camping gear and food for 3-4 days, take Mr Dillions distances and timings as a rough guide only. His easy ascents and descents really are not easy, this is the alps after all and the terrain is very rugged and every day will be a challenge . We think Mr Dillion marched the route with a day pack and light snacks! We met many trekkers and all commented on how difficult they had found the stages. Use this as a rough guide and if you are wild camping then you can be flexible with your distances.

We downloaded the book onto our Kindle. This saved carrying the extra weight of the book and also because the Kindle has great battery life we knew we could always access the book.


Alone Through The Alps by Antti Rantanen

Antti Rantanen, an experienced and enthusiastic long-distance hiker from Finland, solo hiked one of the most famous trails of the vast GR network: the GR number five, otherwise known as the Grand Traverse of the Alps.
Alone Through the Alps is a detailed and vivid travelogue of an unforgettable adventure across the French Alps, through deep and lush valleys, over high and snow-covered mountain passes—all the way from the shores of Lake Geneva to the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast of Nice.


A Walk to the Water by Daniel Graham

An interesting book about two brothers doing a long distance trek which includes large sections of the GR5.

On 14 April 2013, Daniel Graham and his twin brother, Jake, stepped out of their front door in Bristol and on to the path. Longing for a challenge, they set out to complete the adventure of a lifetime: a 3,000-kilometre walk through Western Europe.

GR5 Trail Maps


We used Viewranger on our iPhones and it worked brilliantly. We subscribed to the French IGN Geoportail Annual Mapping Service within the app for £18.99. This gives you unlimited use of the IGN France Topographic maps 1:25,000. You will need to download the maps (tiles) that your route follows to your phone. This will allow you to view the maps and your location  without a data signal. You can even have your phone in airplane mode and the app will still locate you.

The traditional route is set in 5 stages:

1-GR5 037 Thonon-les-Bains àLes Houches. Distance 113 kilometres, height gain 7,471 metres, height lost 6,934 metres.    

2 -GR5 038 De Les Houches à Bessans. Distance 113 kilometres, height gain 7,305 metres, height lost 6,612 metres.

3 -GR5 039 De Bessans à Montgenèvre. 116 kilometres, 6,794 metres, height lost 6,648 metres.

4 -GR5 040 Montgenèvre to St Dalmas-le-Selvage. Distance 113 kilometres, height gain 6,854 m, height lost 7,195 metres.

5 -GR5 041 StDalmas-le-Selvage à Nice. Distance 116 kilometres, height gain 6,551 metres, height lost 7,991 metres. (original route ending)

Our route included the Vanoise National Park via the GR55and the alternative ending to Menton via the GR52. Both routes are covered in the Trekking the GR5 Trail book above by Paddy Dillion.

Alternative route ending via the GR52.

5 -GR52 St Dalmas to Menthon. Distance 81 kilometres, height gain 5,929 metres, height lost 7,210 metres. Alternative route ending via the GR52 and the stunning Mercantour National Park. This is a much better better finish and keeps you at a high elevation until the last couple of hours of the last days trek.



Helpful Websites

Move Your Alps - Very useful site that splits the route into 40 shorter sections than those in the Paddy Dillion guide book.

Long Distance Trail - Blog by Antti Rantanen who completed the route in an impressive 26 days. Antti also created a great guide to camping the GR5. Download it here.