The GR 5, commonly known as the ‘Europe Trail’, covers 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) from Nice in the south of France to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Through majestic mountain ranges, such as the Alps, the Vosges and the Ardennes, the trail, which was first marked out in the middle of the last century, offers an eclectic panorama of the entire western continent.
This Collection showcases the 200 kilometres (124 mi) from Landry to Thonon-les-Bains from south to north. On this incredible journey, from a town situated on the Isère, a tumultuous river that separates the Vanoise and Beaufortain ranges, you keep the roof of Europe in the corner of your eye throughout.
As soon as you leave Landry, you follow the section of the GR 5 better known as the ‘GTA - Grande traversée des Alpes’. With the Vanoise at your back, you reach the Beaufortain massif and its large Roselend dam lake. Later on, you take on the trails beneath Mont-Blanc, crossing the Aiguilles Rouges and discovering the Chablais. The varied landscapes reveal stunning panoramas and a breathtaking array of colours. Flirting with the highest peak in the Alps, green valleys and rocky passes follow one another, giving you an almost poetic experience that only the high mountains can provide.
Below summer’s busy paths, you’ll recognise the region's famous winter sports resorts. Les Portes du Soleil or Chamonix-Mont-Blanc are the largest of the many towns and villages that adorn the mountains.
Finally, in Thonon-les-Bain, get ready to discover a new side of the Alps. On arrival in this lakeside town, the gradient becomes child's play. Its gently sloping streets will probably put a smile on your face after your last long and tiring climbs.
Landry railway station is easy to reach from Chambéry, a town on the Lyon-Grenoble line. On the way back from Thonon-les-Bains, there are daily trains to Geneva and then to Paris.
On this section of the GR 5, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options. There are many gîtes and inns in the towns and villages. In the high mountains, alpine huts are common. Depending on the season, the trail can sometimes fall victim to its popularity, so advance booking is recommended. It’s worth bearing in mind that some shops are only open from mid June to mid September. Whatever the season, research the route and plan well in advance.
If you like sleeping under the stars, take your tent or even a tarp. Beware of the fact that wild camping is strictly forbidden on the Aiguilles Rouges. For reasons of environmental protection, it’s only possible to camp in the vicinity of staffed mountain huts and it’s wise to ask the wardens for information.
I recommend this part of the GR 5 for the summer and autumn, as it includes a number of passages in the high mountains, above 2,000 metres (6,550 ft) in altitude. Therefore, make sure you’re aware of the conditions. It’s common for the passes and summits to be snowed in at the beginning of summer.
Note that during your route, you’ll cross the border into Switzerland. If you can read French, I can recommend an author who is dear to me. In 1973, the Swiss author Jacques Chessex published ‘L'Ogre’, which won the Goncourt prize the same year.
For the first part of the GR 5: komoot.com/collection/1995325
For the second part of the GR 5: komoot.com/collection/2003603
Find the third part of the GR 5: komoot.com/collection/2010042
In this Collection, I sometimes refer to my own travel experience. You can find my writings (in French) and photographs here: simonwicart.com/voyage/en-route-sur-les-gr-francais/mont-blanc
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Last updated: June 26, 2023
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You are now ready to begin the third part of the very long GR 5, this time between Landry and Thonon-les-Bains. Today, you leave the small town nestled between the Vanoise and the Beaufortain to head towards the highest massif in Europe: that of Mont-Blanc.
The pleasure is not yet for now, and a long…
At the start of this second stage, you begin a tough climb towards the Col de Bresson. On the way, don't be surprised to meet roped and helmeted groups: the massif is popular for climbing.
On the other side of the pass, you will discover the fourth highest dam lake in France. Roselend Lake is a huge expanse…
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This third stage in the heart of the Mont-Blanc massif is probably the busiest stage you will have to do on the GR 5. Indeed, the route is also taken by the very famous Tour du Mont-Blanc, a must itinerant alpine hikes.
From the Croix du Bonhomme refuge, head towards the Bonhomme pass. From there, enjoy…
This fourth stage is the one that offers the most points on the giant of the Alps, more commonly known as Mont Blanc. Starting from Bionassay, its foothills can already be seen through the Bionnassay glacier, the smallest of the large glaciers in the French part of the Mont-Blanc massif.
At Col de Voza…
At the start of this fifth stage, you leave the Bellachat refuge for a pretty ridge path that pulls up to Brévent and its 2,525 meters of altitude. Each of your steps brings you closer to a magnificent landscape. In the background, on the other side of the Chamonix valley, the king of the mountain watches…
Of the regions of France that I have had the opportunity to visit, you are about to cross during this sixth stage, one that I consider to be the most beautiful. From the Moëde-Anterne refuge, you head towards the Anterne pass. On this winding path, be careful. During rainy periods, some paths turn into…
For this seventh stage, you leave Samoëns in the direction of rural paths. Rather short in kilometers, it is also carried out on a gentle slope. No technical difficulty exhausts the course, so spare your efforts and save your energy. Note that you will no longer find a convenience store before Chapelle…
At the start of this eighth stage, you leave the Chardonnière refuge for a nice climb towards the Col de Coux (1,920 meters). This historic pass which separates France from Switzerland was the object of the passage of many smugglers, busy with the traffic of sugar, butter, or tobacco. Today, only a pretty…
At the start of this ninth stage, you leave Switzerland to return very quickly to the French slopes of the Alps. Shortly after the border, I invite you to stay on the paved section up to the Col de Bassachaux (1,777 meters). The landscapes stretching out before your eyes are grandiose.
You then turn in…
This tenth stage is not the longest, but imposes a significant drop and at the end of the route, a certain technicality. From La Chapelle-d'Abondance, don't forget to fill your bag with food since you won't come across a mini-market until two days later. You then head towards Pas de la Bosse at an altitude…
During this penultimate stage, you will leave the heart of the Alps to approach the Lake Geneva basin. Along the way, you notice the frequent appearance of hamlets and paved roads. Be careful about the markup: it is no longer necessarily well indicated in these rather urbanized areas.
From the Dent d…
Here you are on the last stage of this Collection rallying Landry to Thonon-les-Bains. Above all, it is also the last stage of the Grande Traversée des Alpes that you may have followed in the south-north direction from Nice.
From Reyvroz, the paths no longer present any difficulty. Now in the Lake Geneva…
Hiking Collection by Chloé Perceval
Hiking Collection by Luc Gesell
Hiking Collection by Chloé Perceval
Running Collection by Bryan Da Silva