Under the Moroccan sun, there is a majestic botanical garden like no other in the world. The Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech is a cool respite from the intense pace, noise and heat of the souks, medina and Djemaa el-Fna.
In the 1920s, French artist Jacques Majorelle designed the meticulously arranged garden and built a villa and studio. The building is captivating--an art deco design with intricate Moorish details and painted cobalt blue, a color that dots the geometric patterns of Moroccan tiles. The electric blue became a trademark color, Majorelle Blue.
Jardin Majorelle was opened to the public in 1947, and later bought and restored by the late Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge.
For a serene morning stroll, I recommend taking a caleche--a horse and buggy--and getting there when the doors open at 8:00 a.m. (It costs 50 dirhams or so.) Spend an hour leisurely walking amongst the cacti, palm trees and exotic plants. The garden oasis hosts many singing birds as well. Loll in the shade by the reflecting pools, fountains and pergolas. Afterwards, refresh at the cafe with mint tea.
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A Famed Fashion Designer's Marrakesh Retreat
Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent made Morocco his second home, and with his former digs there now open to the public you can get a pretty good idea just why. The Jardin Majorelle is as much a garden as a home, as the name suggests, with paths winding through tall shoots of bamboo and labeled displays of a mind-boggling different types of cactus. Saint Laurent’s remains are tucked away at the end of one walkway, in a simple urn. There’s a nice little museum devoted to Berber art. I love the gallery of framed drawings and photo collages that Saint Laurent created for his New Year’s greeting cards—which he sent out to friends for decades—and, just as much, the fact that you can buy them as postcards in the gift shop. Unlike many of the other historic sites in town, this one is conveniently open every day.
Designed by painter Jacques Majorelle in the 20s and restored and perfected by its last owner, Yves St. Laurent, who gifted it to the city, it is a stunning botanical retreat in the city of Marrakesh. Do take a half a day and wander through.