Photo courtesy of Moroccan National Tourist Office/www.visitmorocco.com
The Worlds Most Iconic Garden
In 1923 the artist Jacques Majorelle acquired a 4-acre plot of land just outside the center of Marrakech. Inspired by numerous travels around the country to paint scenes of village life, and funded by painting more illustrious portraits like that of Pasha Thami el Glaoui, he was able to build a small studio and house, and enough land to indulge his other passion: ethno-botany. As his career grew he added a splendid villa, and the garden took on a life of its own, featuring innumerable exotic species from around the world; he added pools and fountains, and of course the now iconic, eye-popping Majorelle blue that was lavished on the architecture. It became so expensive to maintain that he was forced to open it to the public until his death in Paris in 1962. The garden gradually fell into a state of disrepair, and was slated for development by a hotel chain until Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge happened upon it during one of their many trips to the Red City. In 1980 they decided to buy it and restore it to its former glory, adding irrigation, doubling the number of plants, and gardeners to look after it. They moved into the villa and set about transforming other buildings into what is now its legendary Berber Museum and boutique. The boutique, especially, is noteworthy for creative director Stephen di Renza’s commitment to reflecting Majorelle’s lesser-known passion for the decorative arts, which manifested in exquisite artisanal pieces, leather goods, and jewelry, and of course Yves Saint Laurent's passion for bringing traditional Moroccan dress like the kaftan and djellaba into haute-couture fashion.
By Tara Stevens, AFAR Local Expert
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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.
By Darrell Hartman, AFAR Contributor
Window to a Secret Garden
Located on a quiet side street, in the upscale neighborhood of Guéliz, is a garden called Marjorelle. The garden is named after its creator, Jacques Majorelle, a French born artist who settled in Marrakesh in 1919 to continue his career as a painter. Majorelle died in 1962 and the gardens remained unkept, until 1980, when the French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé bought the property and restored it. Entry to the Garden is through a typical Moroccan wood door and like a riad, you have no idea what’s on the inside until you cross the threshold. When you first enter the garden, you step into a very small, intimate courtyard with a fountain. I felt like I had escaped into a secret garden, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the city. Beyond the courtyard is a lush garden, filled with an eclectic mix of plants surrounding the occasional pool. The garden that Jacques built lives on as his creative masterpiece. In fact, the special shade of bold cobalt blue, which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings, is named after him - Majorelle Blue. While the centerpiece of the garden is his former residence, a two storey house painted in Marjorelle Blue, I fell in love with all the windows and their intricately carved frames, painted in stark white. Although the relatively modern look and feel of Marjorelle Garden is in stark contrast to the gardens and buildings that you see in the rest of Marrakesh, it’s worth a visit.
By Julee K., AFAR Local Expert
Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, Morocco
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. Map: http://www.jardinmajorelle.com/jardin/#
By Jack Barr, AFAR Local Expert
The Majorelle Gardens
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.
An example of "Majorelle Blue", created by Jacques Majorelle, the painter in the 20's and 30's who lived and worked in Marrakesh and created the lovely gardens bearing his name. It is nowthe adopted color of Marrakesh in general.
Marrakech Motocycle Maidens
The French Touch in The Heart of Marrakesh
In the midst of the chaotic roads, the busy locals and the humming of the calls to prayer, lies a little piece of heaven. Of blue heaven, that is - majorelle is a French word meaning bright cobalt blue. This really isn't the type of place you would normally expect to find in Marrakesh, the most overwhelming city I have ever visited. The Jardin de Majorelle was designed by French artist Jean Majorelle, back in the 1920s, where Morocco was a protectorate of France. What is perhaps the most notable feature of the garden, outside its luxuriant plant selection and its typically photogenic Moroccan architecture, is the owner, Yves Saint-Laurent. Upon his death in 2009, his ashes were scattered in the garden, and a memorial was created to honor his memory. Marrakesh left me with mixed feelings - but if there's one thing that could make me flip to the 'Marrakesh is awesome!' team, it would definitely be these gardens. Definitely not to be skipped. Quick tip: if you have time to tea, the garden's tea house is particularly lovely and offers many fancy options that are well worth their steep price by Moroccan standards. Enjoy!
By Marie-Eve Vallieres, AFAR Local Expert
An Incredible Enclave in Marrakesh
The Jardin Majorelle, just outside the walls of Marrakesh's Medina, is a quiet sanctuary, featuring the influence of both Jacques Majorelle and renowned French fashion icon Yves Saint-Laurent. Despite being just meters away from the bustle of the Medina, the garden is a calm, colorful tribute to the influence of two of France's most notable designers. Bright yellows, oranges, and the famous Majorelle blue decorate the buildings, while majestic flowers fill in the blanks. Lilly pools, water features, and other tasteful monuments create an incredible sense of tranquility, beauty, and relaxation, all in the middle of the incredible chaos that is Marrakesh. And with a 50 dhs (~$6) admission fee, tranquility doesn't have to cost.
Jardin Melancholia, Marrakech
Jacques Majorelle, after spending years trekking through the deserts and mountains of northern Africa, settled for a while in Marrakech and created a most beautiful garden on the Rue Yves Saint Laurent. A fantastic Moorish garden filled with fountains full of jeweled carp and exquisite water lilies, and lush with exotic plants and flowering creepers. The most amazing thing, though, is the walls are all painted in a shade of purplish blue that has come to be known as 'majorelle blue' against which the verdant green of plant life literally explodes with vibrancy. A feast for the eyes and the soul...
By Anne McGlynn
Garden walks in Marrakesh
It’s good to get quiet with nature in a city that runs on a pace like Marrakech. The Marjorelle Gardens are rightly celebrated, and allow to you catch breath among the running water and shady stands of bamboo. But gardens closer to the medina are often over-looked. Those surrounding the Koutobia Mosque are planted with roses and a delight to walk in, as are those at Agdal near the Kasbah. Grab a scoop of ice-cream from a nearby stand, and spot young Moroccan couples and families alike taking the air. Early evening is the most popular time to enjoy the promenade.
By Paul Clammer
Le Jardin Majorelle
Visit Le Jardin Majorelle in Marakesh, a tropical paradise where Yves Saint Laurence got much of his inspiration. Tall, thin trees shoot up in every direction, their trunks engraved with thousands of tiny messages, initials and symbols. Colorful pots and cactuses line the side of the stone walkways. A huge pond full of waterlilies reflects the lush foliage and architecture. Visit YSL's place of burial, his ashes buried into the earth of this garden, and view some of his incredible fine artwork in a museum on the grounds.
Color, Color Everywhere!
Yves St. Laurent owned a garden in Marrakech. It is a busy tourist stop that at first seems overrated, but if you go early in the morning and let your senses get lost in the rich colors and marvelous trees, flowers, and plants, you'll see what all the fuss is about. After your walk through the estate, stop into the tiny museum dedicated to St. Laurent's "Love" letters to his friends and then have a refreshing class of ginger juice in the outdoor cafe. If you time your visit right, you'll be walking out of this lovely retreat just as the tour buses unload their mid-day crowds.
By Kiara Downey, AFAR Local Expert
When in Marrakech most of your sightseeing will be within the confines of the walls of the medina. However, the Majorelle Garden is a must-see in the new city of Gueliz. The house originally belonged to a painter who used this vibrant shade of blue to paint his house and garden walls. The gardens are impressive with a great many varieties of trees and plants. The blue and yellow contrast is striking and you will most definitely take a whole lot of photos. Try to come early before the tour groups arrive so you can savor the oasis that this garden provides.
By Ryna Dery
Rue Yves St Laurent By A-Maps، Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Sun - Sat 8am - 5:30pm