Coming back after the first rest day, we had from Albi, home of the pigeon-eating catfish, to Toulouse, capital of Occitània. A ford of the Garonne at Toulouse, known as the Bazacle, from the Latin vadaculum, “little ford,” lies just down the road from today’s finish line.
The first mills at the Bazacle, built in the 11th century, floated in the river. These were replaced by standing mills and a dam was constructed across the river during the 12th century. The mill owners founded the Société des Moulins du Bazacle in the 13th century. The owners received shares in the company and a percentage of the future revenue while the company took ownership of the mills at the Bazacle, making the Société des Moulins one of the first examples of a joint-stock company in the world. Supported by the wealth of the mill’s, Toulouse’s industrial district grew up around the Bazacle. At the end of the 19th century, the mills were converted into a hydroelectric power plant that still operates to this day.