After Thursday evening's Monte-Carlo start outside the Casino, two stages in darkness near Digne-les-Bains punctuate the run north to Gap.
Three stages in the Hautes Alpes and Isere regions, north of Gap, form Friday's action.
Competitors return to Monaco on Saturday via two passes of the marathon 51.55km Lardier et Valenca - Faye and the classic Sisteron - Thoard.
Sunday's final leg, as is traditional, runs in the Alpes Maritimes mountains above Monaco and features the legendary Col de Turini.
Rallye Monte-Carlo is the WRC's jewel in the crown and the oldest in the calendar.
First run in 1911, it was designed to promote Monte-Carlo as a tourist destination, with competitors starting from different European cities before gathering in Monaco.
The 1966 rally became famed for its controversial outcome when giant-killing Mini Coopers claimed the top three places before being disqualified for alleged infringements of headlight regulations.
What's new for 2016
Each day includes a new stage compared to the 2015 rally.
Friday's night's 20.23km Barles - Seyne test has never been run in this direction.
Saturday's Saint Leger les Melezes - La Batie Neuve stage crosses the Ancelle ski slopes.
Only the top 60 classified competitors will start Sunday's final leg.
Col de Turini. One of the sports iconic locations, where enormous crowds will gather to watch competitors cross the mountain summit in the La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava test in the final leg. An incredible atmosphere and a 'must-do' for visitors.
Sunday's finish outside the Palace in Monaco, with monarch Prince Albert presenting the prizes.
Meeke fastest at Monte shakedown
Kris Meeke got his 2016 WRC campaign off to a great start in France this afternoon, setting fastest time at the Shakedown for this week's season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.
The Briton drove his DS 3 World Rally Car through the 3.3km stage near Gap in 2m07.2sec, two-tenths quicker than his closest rival, Volkswagen's defending world champion Sebastien Ogier. Dani Sordo was third, 3.4sec slower than Meeke in Hyundai's all-new i20 WRC.
Mud was the major talking point of the session, during which the dry Tarmac quickly turned wet and slippery as cars dragged snow and slush from the verges.
One of the first to tackle the stage, Meeke conceded that his start position had been an advantage for his winning run.
"We were second or third in, and for sure a lot of mud was pulled out and the road got slower and slower," he told wrc.com. "Okay, in that sense it isn't a very representative stage, but I'm still happy because my second pass was quickest too - so even when the road was muddy the time was still good.
"The most important thing is that the feeling was good. It's been too long since Rally GB and it's nice to get into the car against the clock again - to put the lids on and do a proper WRC shakedown. It's a confidence booster - and this rally is all about confidence."
Mads Ostberg was ninth-fastest on his first rally back in M-Sport's Ford Fiesta RS and agreed with Meeke. "They were difficult conditions for sure. We started late for our first run and by then it was full mud. It was tricky, but good to do some runs to get used to the car," he said.
With the temperature nudging 4C, drivers are bracing themselves for more mud as the ice and snow seen on the pre-event recce begins to thaw.
"On the recce this road was basically clear with snow banks on either side but today it turned out to be a mud race," explained Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala. "From our position a long way down the start order we had no chance. This was quite extreme though - I don't expect we'll see anything quite this bad in the rally."
Drivers will head to Monte-Carlo for Thursday's start ceremony before the first competitive stage, Entrevaux - Val de Chalvagne - Rouaine, begins at 2018hrs.