Bazacle

The Bazacle is one of the main landmarks in Toulouse France. A dam of sorts, this structure across the Garonne River has been in place since the twelfth century, and this speaks to the rich history of Toulouse itself, not to mention France on the whole.

Today, the hydroelectric power station at Bazacle Toulouse continues to operate. Older turbines cooperate with newer turbines in order to make everything happen, and part of the site is open to visitors. During a visit, many tourists stop to check out the fish ladder. For those wishing to see both the Bazacle Dam and the fish ladder, the site is not difficult to find. It is situated to the near northwest of the Saint-Pierre Bridge, which in turn is just a little bit north/northwest of the older Pont Neuf. Many city tours highlight the dam and the nearby bridges, so tourists might keep that in mind when trying to build their Toulouse itineraries.

The Bazacle Toulouse dam was originally a ford that spanned the Garonne River. For those who might not know, a ford is a shallow spot in a river or stream that allows for the body of water in question to be crossed quite easily. In and around 1190, Raymond V de Toulouse authorized the building of a dam at the Bazacle site. Coincidentally, this is around the same time that construction began on the original building of the Capitole. Once Bazacle dam was completed, mills were erected close by. The famous French Renaissance writer, Francois Rabelais, actually cited these mills as being the world's most powerful. The whole project was funded by a group of high-ranking locals, or seigneurs, and they shared the profits according to how many project shares they owned.

The local seigneurs who originally funded the Bazacle Toulouse dam went on to form a society that was known as the Societe des Moulins du Bazacle, or the Bazacle Mining Company. Little by little, the individual shares that were owned by Bazacle Mining Company shareholders came to be traded on the open market in Toulouse, and as such, the company is often credited with being the world's first joint-stock company.

In the eighteenth century, the mills that benefited from the Bazacle Dam in Toulouse were largely making flour. Towards the end of the century, however, it was decided that the mills would be traded for a hydroelectric power station. This station was completed in 1890 with the purpose of supplying Toulouse with electricity, and in 1946, it was purchased by Electricite de France (Electricity of France). This company, which is based in Paris, is actually the largest utility company in the world.

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