Exploring Munster and Finding Storks
In my previous post on exploring the Alsace with kids, I mentioned the dead-ends that led us to Munster, and how with hindsight I was so grateful for them. There was so much about Munster and it’s surrounding area that we thoroughly enjoyed, and it’s definitely somewhere we would to.
If you want the short version of what we loved:
- The aire suited us – water, electricity, lots of space, trains to watch (and storks later on when we discovered them!).
- There was a playground a short walk away.
- Munster itself was a beautiful and interesting town – there were nice bakeries and restaurants, a market on Saturday, and the storks!
- We also visited the nearby La Maison du Fromage – a cheese ‘house’ dedicated to the local production of Munster cheeses, with museum, restaurant and shop.
You can find details of all our favourite places in Munster at the bottom of this post.
Motorhome aire at Munster
As a single parent with two kids on this roadtrip around Europe, and a drizzly February day spent hopping from one closed up aire to another looking for water, I was pretty relieved to arrive in Munster. My main priority was to fill our campervan water tank and find somewhere for us to stay.
After those hours spent trawling around, Munster motorhome aire was like a warm welcome hug to this tired mum on her own! The aire had everything we needed – water, electricity, space for the girls to potter around, and trains to watch. Later we discovered we could also see the storks from the Baby Bus window.
No, this was not a dreamy woodland spot away from it all, but it was exactly what I needed at the moment. Travelling as a parent on my own with my daughters I definitely felt a stronger need to feel secure, and having all the facilities of a well equipped aire was what I needed right then.
Munster bakeries and a playground
On our first trip out to explore Munster – likely we were in search of a bakery! – we discovered a small playground in a nice park on our walk in. It was a nice easy walk with two kids, not too far, interesting things to look at, and not too many roads to cross. As mentioned, we were likely in search of a bakery, and I find this is often a great way to locate the main shopping area or market street in French towns. I also drag my kids around multiple bakeries before settling on one…I might not recommend this so highly.
There were a couple of bakeries in Munster, one of which was more of a boutique patisserie called Pâtisserie Gilg. We highly recommend it. We also highly recommend the more traditional bakeries with those queuing outside for baguettes. Pâtisserie Gilg was such fun to go to though, the counter inside is circular so you can just keep looping round endlessly, your eyes getting wider as you take in all the beautiful edible creations, and none the wiser as to which you will pick.
Things we tried included the chocolate eclairs and macarons (in the most exquisite flavours we’d come across in France – I had raspberry and violet).
They also made delicious beignets (more about them in this post), and some other local specialties such as kougelhopf and hansi brioche (a braided chocolate and cinnamon brioche). We also had some little deep fried dough pastries with apple and raisins, but I can’t remember the name. They also sold homemade ice cream, which we couldn’t sample as we don’t have a freezer to keep it in.
Discovering storks in Munster
Armed with our macarons we headed towards the Munster tourist office in the hope of finding out where we might be able to see the storks and confirm if the local market would be on Saturday. As we wandered along there was suddenly this loud clacking sound overhead and we looked up to see a stork flying over our heads! And then we saw them – about half a dozen pairs of storks, most in huge nests atop a building and others on these specially made tall platforms with nests.
We were in awe. Much like seeing the flamingoes in the Camargue, there is something about these huge birds – especially in flight – that we have found to render us speechless. Nature at it’s best.
After that, we sat on a wall and watched them while we ate our macarons. Then everywhere we walked around the town we spotted more, and realised we’d walked past them into town without noticing them. I blame it on being a distracted mum on my own with two kids. From then on we thoroughly enjoyed spending lots of time spotting them, watching them building their nests (or chucking out sticks! there are signs to warn you not to stand too close – photo below), flying, and clacking their beaks together.
Below I’ll include some of the spots we saw them nesting around the town, but basically go explore and I’m sure you’ll find them too.
The people in the tourist office were friendly and gave us the market information we needed. They also told us about the storks, and how they all used to migrate for the winter before returning in the spring, but now they have some pairs that stick around. The others also returned much earlier this spring than in previous years – worth noting if you are trying to plan a trip to see them.
Munster Saturday market
In my experience, the Munster market was a really good French market. There was lots of choice, from vegetables and cheese, to charcuterie. It was a nice size, not too big for me to get overwhelmed as I often do by all the choice on offer – Nick can get fed up going around and around before I make a decision on which stalls to buy from, and what to buy.
I felt it was extra special being there with locals doing their weekly shop, the surrounding buildings dotted with these huge nests and the magnificent storks floating around in the sky.
I love a good French market – here are some of our favourite French markets all in one post.
Eating out in Munster
The final thing that I was keen to do in Munster was go out for lunch at one of the restaurants and cafes. I both welcomed the idea of not having to cook a meal and wash up, but also felt anxious about sitting in a restaurant on my own with two kids. On this trip I used online reviews of places to eat quite a lot, and had seen a restaurant called Winstub S’Stewla that I liked the sound of.
Unfortunately we had two failed attempts to eat here – the first it was fully booked, and the second it was closed. The first time we just went back to the Baby Bus and had lunch there. The second time I felt determined to find somewhere else, plus my kids were quite hungry by then!
We found La Table des Malker on the main shopping street, it looked homely and it had space. We were seated upstairs in a quirky little dining room with another family. I guess you might not consider the table idea, as it was more like a coffee table with comfy chairs around it, but it worked fine for us.
There was a kids menu, but they also offered kid sized portion of anything on the main menu – we chose this option, both my daughters having the Choucroute. I had a beef in red wine with vegetables, which was tasty, good French cooking. We also enjoyed some homemade cordials and were given a little glass of what I think was some kind of rilette or pate for nibbles before our food came.
Our Top Tips for Visiting Munster
Munster Places to Visit
We visited in February 2020.
- Bakeries: These were found on the main shopping street – Grand Rue. We especially liked Pâtisserie Gilg (which also has shops in Colmar and Ribeauvillé). The other more traditional bakery we went to was Heinrich Christian also on Grand Rue, I think we got some soft bretzels there (no, not a spelling error, bretzel not pretzel here in Alsace).
- Storks: We first saw them near the Ruines de l’Abbaye de Munster – we sat on a low wall on Place de la Salle des Fêtes where the Rue du Couvent meets it. They were also around the Église Protestante that’s at one end of the market place – around the side there is a huge willow tree where they also nest, which was one of our favourite spots.
- Tourist Office: located in the building marked L’Abbaye d’Anny restaurant on Google maps, entrance at the bottom end of Rue du Couvent.
- Restaurants: We went to La Table des Malker but also liked the look and sound of Winstub S’Stewla.
- Market: Saturday morning in Place du Marché.
- Playground: in Parc André Hartmann near Rue de la Gare.
- Further afield: La Maison du Fromage and our post Exploring the Alsace with kids has details of where else we went.
Munster Motorhome Aire
We visited in February 2020.
- Address: Rue du Dr Heid, 68140 Munster, France.
- Directions: Coming from Colmar, I stayed on the south side of the river and followed the D10 from the Super U (supermarket) roundabout into town. If you follow the D10 in you will come to a left turn (just after the park) onto Rue du Dr Heid and there is a sign for ‘Aire de Services’ with the motorhome symbol. Follow that road down across the train track and you’ll find the entrance to the aire on your left.
- Cost: €8 / 24 hour (you could stay longer). The rest was done by tokens, which were €1.50 each – 6A electricity was 1 token, water was 2 tokens.
- Facilities: Water, grey water drain, chemical disposal point, rubbish and recycling bins, electricity, and a free toilet and shower (you get a code when you pay to stay).
- Site: The motorhome aire itself is quite large, with lots of spaces, some longer for bigger motorhome. It is a tarmac/fine gravel surface situated next to the train station – when we were there this didn’t both us, but I have kids who enjoy watching trains. There are a few small trees and some grass, and an electric barrier to the aire. We could see some of the storks nests from the aire, and had a few fly over us. In February when we went it was pretty quiet, just a few other motorhomes.