EDF Bazacle Hydroelectric Station, a power station in the heart of Toulouse!
Right in the heart of Toulouse, on the banks of the river Garonne, Le Bazacle is the oldest hydroelectric power plant in the city, as well as being one of the oldest in the entire country. When it opened in 1888, it powered the streetlights of the town centre and Toulouse’s first tramway.
Get your fill of energy !
Tariffs and conditions
Self-guided tours of l’Espace EDF Bazacle are free and open to all with no prior reservation during opening hours.
Guided tours, also free of charge, take place every Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm or on reservation for groups by calling 05 34 39 88 70 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visits are possible for persons with hearing, visual or mental impairments by calling 05 34 39 88 70 or contacting email@example.com
• Average duration: one hour.
• 15 participants max for one guide.
• Proof of identity is required on the day of the tour.
• Minors must be accompanied by adults.
• Guided tours are available in French, English and Russian.
• Animals are not allowed.
The story of Le Bazacle is fascinating and of great importance for the city of Toulouse. Do you know where the name of the site comes from? The latin word Badaculum means “little earthen ford”. Where the present-day weir lies, there was a ford that allowed the inhabitants of Toulouse to cross the river Garonne without getting their feet wet when the water level was low. During periods of high water, this ford allowed the creation of a channel which was used by floating mills from the early 12th century onwards. Later, the first mills were built on the riverbank and were cited as being some of the most beautiful mills in Europe. Many millers worked hard to supply the flour used by the bakers of Toulouse. This activity endured for more than seven centuries!
Today, Le Bazacle continues to supply electricity. It is a run-of-river power station, meaning that it operates round the clock to produce 3 megawatts of power. This is enough power to supply 12,000 inhabitants via the national grid. Today, it powers the EDF network. Hydroelectric power amounts to about 10% of France’s energy mix. By joining a guided tour, you be able to visit the machinery room and see the one hundred year-old alternators that are still in use.
From the Bazacle’s terrace, you will be able to appreciate a magnificent view of the tumultuous waters of the Garonne, and the architecture of Toulouse, most notably the dome of La Grave and the Pont Neuf bridge, but also the fish pass. Indeed, the fish pass is one of the distinctive features of the site. Do you know the story of the salmon’s journey? Salmon are migratory fish: they travel between fresh water and salt water. Salmon are born in the Pyrenees, but after their first year they become smolts and prepare for life in salt water. This is the beginning of a long voyage: the salmon swims down the river Garonne and travels as far as Greenland where it spends many months feeding on prawns to gain size and weight. Once they grow to their adult size they make the return journey to reproduce in the river that they were born in: the Garonne!
Upon arriving at Golfech, a nuclear and hydroelectric power station, the salmon enter the fish elevator that allows them to scale the 17 metre-high barrage. The salmon then continue their journey upstream to Toulouse but they cannot jump the 4 metre weir of Le Bazacle and instead use the fish pass. It consists of several pools stacked in succession, just like a staircase! Once back in the mountains, the salmon give birth to the next generation of fish that will accomplish the same voyage as their parents. Thanks to this infrastructure, EDF ensures the ecological continuity of the river Garonne. Now, continue on to the Galerie de l’Oeil du Bazacle, dating back to 1814. At the time, it was used to funnel water into the turbines, but it is now a photo gallery. You are now beneath the surface of the river and you can look through the fish pass viewport. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a migrator! Salmon travel up the river between April and June. Outside of this period, you might be able to see the native fish of the river if you are patient enough!
Le Bazacle is a very special place: a crossroads for history, industrial heritage, and the environment.