Morocco, Top Travel Tips – The Majorelle Gardens

“A visit to Marrakech was a great shock to me. This city taught me colour”  – Yves Saint Laurent

The gardens were just around the corner now and it was hot in the sunshine as we stood in line for our tickets and then went inside through the gates.

The garden was designed and laid out in the 1920s by the French painter Jacques Majorelle who created marble pools, raised pathways, banana trees, groves of tall bamboo, coconut palms and bougainvillea but first of all we followed a path through species of cacti carefully collected from all over the world.

The path led to a lily pond that reminded me of Monet’s garden at Giverny in France and which stood in front of a house, a museum now but closed today during refurbishment, which is painted a unique shade of blue.

This seemed odd, it was in contrast to every other building in Marrakech and I wondered how the painter had managed to get around the crimson decree which specifies that everywhere must be red.  The blue is called Majorelle and is made from pigment found only in the Moroccan soil and he must have been especially fond of it because as well as the house the garden was full of large pots all painted predominantly in this colour and contrasting nicely with others in orange, yellow, red and green.

Majorelle, it turns out wasn’t an especially great artist and his garden, rather than his paintings, was his masterpiece.  It is composed and coloured like a work of art. As well as the pots, water is an important feature and there are water filled channels, lily ponds with reflections of the towering palm trees and bubbling fountains.

He was an avid plant collector but after he died in 1962 the house was left empty and the garden abandoned lay for nearly twenty years.   Eventually it was threatened with demolition which is a reminder that sometimes what we create in our life times is only temporary.  After a long period of neglect the garden was then taken over, saved and restored by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

As we wandered along the meandering paths the blue sky suddenly and without warning gave way to grey cloud and within seconds we were in the middle of a heavy rain shower and we had to take cover in a café where there was shelter under the leaves of the banana plants planted around the perimeter.

It took about twenty minutes for the heavy rain to slow down and before we could leave the shelter and then as the rain eased off we returned to the gardens which somehow managed to look even better now with the shiny wet pavements catching shimmering reflections of the brightly coloured pots.

There was a shop of course where I was chastised for taking a picture of an attractive corner and the assistant stood over me and insisted I delete it from the camera.  I fooled her by not following the procedure all the way through but she was satisfied that it was gone and she let me go without calling the photography police.

The path took us around the blue house with its bright yellow windows and strategically placed pots, through tall pergolas where exotic climbing plants raced each other to the top of the poles, past ponds full of goldfish and terrapins and through the bamboo swaying in the breeze as though in a hypnotic trance.  A second wave of rain passed over and we had to shelter next to the memorial to Yves Saint Laurent but it passed over quite quickly and we were able to continue the visit as rain drops splashed us as they dripped from the overhanging leaves.

On balance we would have preferred to have visited the garden without the rain but I suppose the plants all enjoyed the drenching.

    

When we had completed the walk around the garden and Kim was finally satisfied with her collection of pictures of the pots we left and started to walk back the way we had came.  We hadn’t got very far however when it started to rain again and this time it was really unpleasant.  It came in at an angle that got underneath our umbrellas, it had turned quite cool and the sky was grey and horrible in all directions.

We still had a few hours left before the flight home and we didn’t want to walk around all day in this but then as Kim moaned and Margaret complained about the plan to walk to the railway station Mike and I could see some better weather in the north so at a busy crossroads we found a café where we sat and sheltered and thankfully watched the weather, and the girl’s moods, improve as the pavements quickly dried as the sky turned blue and the temperature began to rise.

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35 responses to “Morocco, Top Travel Tips – The Majorelle Gardens

  1. It was 42 deg the day we visited Majorelle. That made it the second best place to be in Marrakech, #1 being a hotel room with a/c.

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  2. What a stunning and vivid shade of blue. I rather like it but am not sure I’d want it over great swatches of area. Gorgeous pots. 😀 😀 Too bad about the rain.

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  3. Unlucky to get rain on holidays. Then again, it might be a nice change from the Moroccan heat.

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  4. I used to paint and cobalt blue was my favorite color… thanks for sharing that beautiful garden!

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  5. Nice. But as I have just left my four acre garden for a one bedroom flat in Melbourne you will forgive me for not getting over excited.

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  6. A lovely way to think of the rain as being good for the garden despite it making your visit a bit uncomfortable. It looks like a great spot with amazing colours.

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  7. I love the colors here, especially when contrasted against the rainy backdrops 🙂

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  8. Andrew why were you asked to delete the photo? Are you not allowed to take photos in businesses.
    Glad to hear the girls moods improved. Walking in the rain to the station would not exactly make me feel giddy with excitement. 🙂

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  9. Your pots have set me scheming how to buy some small pots of jewelled coloured paints and improve my plant pots in the gardens. That way if the plants don’t flower I’ll still have some colour.
    The photograph police are round and about in the UK also. I was stopped from taking a picture in Birmingham’s Bullring a few weeks ago by a security guard and was told NO PHOTOGRAPHS are allowed here.. A friend had the same problem when taking, or trying to take, photos in the Canary Wharf area. And we thought the views and the air were ours. Seems they go when the land and the buildings on it are sold to diverse investors!
    Thanks for another nice piece on Morocco.

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  10. I’m sure the rain would enhance the garden, Andrew, though not part of your last day plans. 🙂 Sounds like you had a good time overall. It was ok to take photos in the garden, I presume? I hate restrictions.

    Happy Easter to you! At home with the grandkids? 🙂

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    • I hadn’t thought about photography in the garden, this seems to be excluded from the ‘no pictures’ rule!
      Quiet Easter (apart from the weather), no children. Enjoy the weekend with your daughter!

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  11. I will pose the same question to you as I did to Narezcie Urlop: How is it that Morocco seems untouched by the terrorism occurring elsewhere? You and he seem to travel there unencumbered.

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    • Oh boy, I don’t have the answer to that one. It is a stable state with the sixth largest economy of the continent of Africa. We did have concerns about visiting but I have to say that at no time did I experience any unpleasantness or feel unsafe. I would happily return tomorrow. The UK Foreign Office website rates it safer than than most European countries. What a strange world we live in eh?

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      • I’m glad there is SOMEplace safe to go. We’ve traveled in the Brussels-Amsterdam-Paris area often, as recently as last spring, and are sickened to see the events.

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  12. Blue and yellow are a smashing combination when together. Shame you couldn’t buy any of those pots, Andrew, or could you?
    Well done on not being arrested by the photography police.

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  13. I loved Majorelle, what a lovely treat to go back with you, thanks!

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