Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave: a village with many advantages

Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave
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Saint-Nicolas-de-la-G ...

Located at the confluence of the Tarn and the Garonne, the bastide of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave is an architectural site typical of Occitan villages. Indeed, the bastides are a historical particularity of this beautiful French region and they materialize the urban organization in the Middle Ages.

But Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave is also the stronghold of a character unfortunately unknown in France, but very famous in the United States: Antoine Laumet, known across the Atlantic as Antoine de Lamothe-Cadillac, founder of the city of Detroit.

And if you are looking for nature, Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave has everything planned: its leisure center is the ideal place for lazing around or, on the contrary, practicing nautical activities.


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A pretty Occitan bastide

Do not hesitate to stop in the town center of the charming village of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave. You will discover a typical heritage of Occitan bastides, but with its own identity. Somehow, all bastides are alike, but their stories make them unique testimonies of their past. Here, you will find the main elements of the bastide, namely:

  • Its hall: The hall of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave is rectangular and has a central position. Unfortunately, it's not the original one. This dates from 1898, and replaces the older building.

The hall of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave

    The brick is the charm of this building


    • Its arcades: In architecture, we speak of "covered". They are parallel to the hall and form a shaded passage, initially planned to promote exchanges and commerce.

    The arcades of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave  The arcades of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave

      The warm-colored arches are cool, shady passages


      But this charming village has other assets to seduce you:

      • Its church: This is the Saint-Victor church, dating from the 17th century. Its octagonal tower (45m) and its pretty brick color remind us that we are at the gates of Toulouse, and its porch offers us a view of the surrounding plain.

      Saint-Victor Church  Saint-Victor Church

        The Saint-Victor church dominates the village


        • Its incredible castle: Named the Richard-Coeur-de-Lion castle, it was actually built by the monks of Moissac in the 12th century, although the King of England was the one who had the first tower built. The abbots then continued the project, and the castle, as you can admire it now (with its 4 towers) dates from the end of the 12th century. Today, this pretty building is listed as a Historic Monument, and it houses the Town Hall of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave.

        Richard-Coeur-de-Lion Castle
        Richard-Coeur-de-Lion Castle  Richard-Coeur-de-Lion Castle

          The legend says that the son of Eleanor of Aquitaine would have stayed there only one night


          The good idea Read our article on the pretty village of Moissac (fr), which is not far from Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave. A good idea for future discovery!


          • Its bandstand: a stone's throw from the hall and the church, proudly stands a pretty bandstand . It is currently the highlight of the village's entertainment. We rush there to celebrate Carnival, July 14 or even during Heritage Days

          The bandstand

            The kiosk: a stronghold of musical entertainment and village festivities

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            Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave: birthplace of the founder of the city of Detroit (USA)

            In addition to a beautiful built heritage, Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave is really worth a stopover, if only to discover the Lamothe-Cadillac museum.

            Do not be worried! This is not just another old car exhibition museum run by a former mechanic. Not at all! It is a museum that traces the life of a historical figure, born in the village: Antoine Laumet, the founder of the city of Detroit, in the USA.


            Plaque in memory of the famous Nicolaite

            Plaque in memory of the famous Nicolaite


            You will also meet Pierre, a passionate and fascinating guide. He will tell you about the life of Antoine Laumet, known as Antoine de Lamothe-Cadillac.

            The Americans want the birthplace of this historical figure who had a strong impact on their history to become a museum. Neither one nor two, they buy the property and offer it to the municipality. There is only one condition for this altruistic gesture: to make it a museum to the glory of the hero Antoine de Lamothe-Cadillac. Thus, this place is thus classified Historic Site of Michigan.


            Official plate  Official plate

            Official plaque attesting to the classification of the place as an American historic site (one side written in French, the other in English)


            The visit is free and it is really good to plan a little time, because your guide will constantly put you in the historical and geographical context whenever necessary. He knows his subject so well that he transports us and makes us travel with him, well… with Antoine de Lamothe-Cadillac.


            The Cadillac Museum  The Cadillac Museum
            The Cadillac Museum  The Cadillac Museum

            The museum retraces the different stages of the adventure of the young Antoine Laumet


            But, what is the link between Antoine Laumet and Cadillac cars? You will understand it during the visit. But, not to leave you on your hunger, just know that he is not the inventor. Indeed, our adventurer was born in 1658, and the Detroit Automobile Company was not renamed Cadillac until 1902!


            The Cadillac Museum

            What is the link between our French adventurer and the American car brand?


            Additional information: The visit is free and the health pass is currently compulsory for access to the Cadillac Museum.

            The good idea Not far away is the village of Auvillar, to gain height and discover the crafts of this beautiful village of Tarn-et-Garonne (fr).


            A little piece of nature

            After spending time in the alleys of the village, do not hesitate to make a small detour to the leisure center of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave (click to read our article), which is only a few kilometers from the town. Here you will have the choice of activity. You can relax in the shade of a pergola, or take a dip in the swimming pool, unless you prefer to take time to watch birds or practice water sports.


            A green environment  A green environment

            A green environment and calm waters await you at the Tarn and Garonne leisure center


            This concludes the visit to the village of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave. If you like typical villages, such as this one, you can go to Auvillar (fr) or Moissac (fr). They are only a few kilometers away and are definitely worth a visit.


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            Article and photos prepared by Charline Prod'Homme for the Guide Tarn Aveyron


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