The GR 5, commonly known as the Sentier de l’Europe (Europe Trail), covers 2,600 kilometres (1,616 mi) from Nice in the south of France to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Through majestic massifs such as the Alps, the Jura, the Vosges and the Ardennes, the GR 5 offers an eclectic take on European landscapes.
In this Collection, I invite you to follow the 310-kilometre (193 mi) south-north route from Montbéliard in the far north-east of the Jura massif to Abreschviller on the edge of the Vosges massif. Departing from a town renowned for its industrial history, you start on the plateau bordering the Territoire de Belfort. Between ponds and farmland, you gently warm up your legs for the Vosges mountains on the horizon.
You soon enter the dense forests of France's most easterly mountain range. You'll come across markings that are different from all the others, those put in place by the highly reputed Club Vosgien. The language will also surprise you. The pronounced Vosges accent is reminiscent of the language of the other side of the Rhine. In the typical farmhouse inns that populate the massif, you'll often hear the elders speaking Alsatian.
All along your route, the landscape is of singular beauty. In one of my notebooks, I wrote: ’The forest is a pleasing array of beech and fir trees. The endemic mix of the Vosges gives its territory a unique and particularly romantic face’. On the trails and paths that run from one summit to the next, you'll come across picturesque huts and refuges. The Alps can sometimes be seen from the high mountain pastures endemic to the Vosges. Finally, you end this epic in the little village of Abreschviller, straddling the Vosges and the Ardennes.
To start this Collection, you can head for Montbéliard railway station. Trains from Besançon and Belfort, towns served by the Paris-Belfort route, run daily. On the way back to Abreschviller, you can take route 155 of the Fluo bus network. Two buses, the first in the early morning and the second in the early afternoon, leave from the town centre for Sarrebourg, where you can catch a train to Nancy and then Paris.
This section of the GR 5 offers a wide range of accommodation. There are plenty of gîtes and inns in the larger towns, but fewer in the villages. In the Vosges mountains, many farm inns offer accommodation in rooms or dormitories. However, depending on the season, you won't be walking alone and you'll be meeting other hiking enthusiasts. Remember to book ahead as places can be limited.
On the first and second stages, I suggest that you camp. So don't forget to bring all the necessary equipment. Above all, don't forget to bring appropriate clothing for both cold and rain. Note also that the region enjoys a continental climate that can be very hot during the summer, so don't forget to hydrate regularly.
Enjoy your trip!
Useful links :
Find the first part of the GR 5 between Nice and Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée: komoot.com/collection/1995325.
Find the second part of the GR 5 between Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée and Briançon: komoot.com/collection/2003603.
Find the third part of the GR 5 between Briançon and Landry:
Find the fourth part of the GR 5 between Landry and Thonon-les-Bains:
Find the fifth part of the GR 5 between Nyon and Montbéliard: komoot.com/collection/2125878.
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/vosges.
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Last updated: June 16, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
Here you are in Montbéliard, at the start of this Collection which takes you on the GR 5 through the majestic Vosges massif. For this first step, save your efforts since it is the longest of this Collection. In addition, I propose to you at the end of the day a first bivouac. Before leaving the city…
At the start of this second stage, you leave Fort Salbert along the GR 5 route. With the Vosges in your sights, you descend gently towards Bas-Évette. If your bivouac at Salbert was frugal, take a detour through the town of the village to find its bakery.
You continue through the wetland of the Étang…
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At the start of your third stage on this beautiful section of the GR 5 which crosses the Vosges, you leave the Chantoiseau pass in the direction of the Wissgrut (1￼124 meters above sea level). Shortly before this summit with a wide panorama, you can stop at the farmhouse of the same name which serves…
At the start of this fourth stage, you leave the Belacker farm-inn after a delicious breakfast in the direction of the highest point of your stage: the Vogelstein and its 1,181 meters of altitude. At the top, if the weather invites you, you hardly feel any other desire than to enjoy the views that open…
At the start of this fifth stage, you leave the Molkenrain farm-inn in the direction of the highest point of this Collection on the GR 5. Before this ascent, you take a break at the Hartmannswillerkopf national monument, a memorial erected in memory of the fighting that took place there during the First…
This sixth stage through the Vosges is a section that never drops below 1,000 meters. You leave from the Hahnenbrunnen refuge and, four kilometers after your departure, at the Herrenberg pass, I suggest you stay on the peaks and follow the GR 5 route bis.
After the shelter of the Neurod, you continue…
For this seventh stage, you start from the Trois Fours chalet-refuge towards the famous Col de la Schlucht. At 1,139 meters above sea level, the latter is an important crossing point in the region. As appreciated by tourists as by cyclists, you will find a beautiful brasserie and a shop on site.
Departing from Le Bonhomme, this eighth stage towards Ribeauvillé is one of the densest. You begin a long climb via the Col des Bagenelles towards the 1,229-metre altitude of Grand Brezouard, your highest point for the day. At the top, sit down for a nice break. The panorama is open to 360 degrees over…
The start of this ninth stage takes place with a beautiful and steep ascent towards the Château de Saint-Ulrich. Erected on a beautiful rocky outcrop, this medieval vestige paints a romantic fresco on the town of Ribeauvillé. Do not hesitate to explore the smallest corners of the castle. Its old stones…
At the start of this tenth stage, you leave the agglomeration of Châtenois along the calm banks of the Giessen. Before crossing the latter, be careful about the markings sometimes made difficult because of the work in progress (note dating from May 2023).
Then you climb the mountainside to reach your…
The first kilometers of this eleventh stage alternate between rich vineyards and picturesque villages, to the delight of gourmets and the curious alike. After the town of Barr, you find in the middle of the vines a surface more pleasant than the bitumen. Then, you abandon the flat plain of Alsace for…
At the start of the Hohwald, you follow in the footsteps of the GR 5 on a slight ascent through a beautiful fir beech forest. Quickly, you pass the 1,000 meters of altitude to discover a huge thatch (endemic mountain pasture of the Vosges). You stand facing the gates of the Field of Fire. Do not hesitate…
To conclude this Collection along the portion of the GR 5 which winds through the heart of the Vosges massif, you leave Schirmeck via the Framont valley. On a balcony path that runs along the departmental road, the ascent gets tougher after passing the hamlet of Grandfontaine.
You reach the highest point…
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