The cloudiness fields simulated by a general circulation model and a validation using the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) satellite observations are presented. An adapted methodology is developed, in which the issue of the sub-grid scale variability of the cloud fields, and how it may affect the comparison exercise, is considered carefully. In particular different assumptions about the vertical overlap of cloud layers are made, allowing us to reconstruct the cloud distribution inside a model grid column. Carrying out an analysis directly comparable to that of ISCCP then becomes possible. The relevance of this method is demonstrated by its application to the evaluation of the cloud schemes used in Laboratoire de Météoroligie Dynamique (LMD) general circulation model. We compare cloud properties, such as cloud-top height and cloud optical thickness, analysed by ISCCP and simulated by the LMD GCM. The results show that a direct comparison of simulated low cloudiness and that shown from satellites is not possible. They also reveal some model deficiencies concerning the cloud vertical distribution. Some of these features depend little on the cloud overlap assumption and may reveal inadequate parameterisation of the boundary layer mixing or the cloud water precipitation rate. High convective clouds also appear to be too thick.