Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech

Jardin Majorelle – Discover the garden of Yves Saint Laurent

A vis­it to the botan­i­cal gar­den Jardin Majorelle is a must for tourists in Marrakech.

And with good rea­son: the lush green of the plants and the unique blue of the build­ings stand in fas­ci­nat­ing con­trast to the dusty red of the rest of the city.

Cre­at­ed in 1923 by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, the gar­den has retained its very own mag­ic to this day, almost 100 years. In our time, the Jardin Majorelle is the most vis­it­ed attrac­tion in Moroc­co and, with its almost 4000 square meters, is one of the most beau­ti­ful gar­dens in the world. Besides the lush plants from a vari­ety of con­ti­nents, the main rea­son is prob­a­bly the blue walls of the vil­la and basins.

The bright, deep blue was spe­cial­ly devel­oped by Jacques Majorelle and still bears the name Majorelle Blue. 

The painter’s refuge

Jacques Majorelle, born in 1886, was fas­ci­nat­ed from an ear­ly age by the light, col­ors and shapes of the North African world, which he first encoun­tered in Egypt in 1910.

In 1919 he set­tled in Mar­rakech and short­ly there­after began build­ing a vil­la  out­side the old city walls of the med­i­na. Gar­dens and a stu­dio followed.

Final­ly, in 1949, he opened the gar­den to vis­i­tors for the first time.

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech

Majorelle lived in Mar­rakech until a year before his death in 1962, dur­ing which time he cre­at­ed numer­ous paint­ings attrib­uted to Ori­en­tal­ism. His works can be seen today in var­i­ous muse­ums in Nan­cy, his birth­place in France.

The garden barely escapes destruction

In 1962, Yves Saint Lau­rent, the great French fash­ion design­er, came to Mar­rakech for the first time with his part­ner Pierre Bergé and instant­ly fell in love with the city. He, too, was cap­ti­vat­ed by the bustling life, the pow­er­ful col­ors and, above all, the light of Moroc­co. Mar­rakech becomes a source of inspi­ra­tion for him and dur­ing his stays he always vis­its the Jardin Majorelle. 

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech
The cac­tus gar­den in the Jardin Majorelle

In 1980, the gar­den and the emp­ty vil­la, which had fall­en into dis­re­pair, were threat­ened with destruc­tion by investors. Saint Lau­rent and Bergé buy the prop­er­ty with­out fur­ther ado and thus save the gar­den from destruction.

Yves Saint Laurent and his love for Marrakech

Seem­ing to be a cre­ative dis­trac­tion in the begin­ning, it quick­ly becomes Saint Lau­ren­t’s most impor­tant retreat from the demands of the fash­ion indus­try. In 2002, Yves Saint Lau­rent retires from the fash­ion busi­ness and spends much of his time in his Vil­la Oasis, which adjoins the gar­den, until his death in 2008.

As ear­ly as 1997, Pierre Bergé found­ed The Majorelle Trust, which still takes care of the preser­va­tion of the gar­den and the vil­la. The gar­den is still open to the pub­lic, and in 2017 the foun­da­tion opened the Musée Yves Saint Lau­rent right next door, which is also well worth see­ing. The Vil­la Oasis, in whose gar­den Yves Saint Lau­ren­t’s ash­es were scat­tered, can unfor­tu­nate­ly not be visited.

The blue villa is simply photogenic

Today, tall palms, dense bam­boo, large cac­ti and the ele­ment of water deter­mine the first impres­sions of vis­i­tors in the Jardin Majorelle. Ini­tial­ly hid­den and sparse­ly vis­i­ble — lat­er dom­i­nant and immer­sive, the Majorelle blue floods the sens­es and per­cep­tion, lets the var­i­ous shades of green fade away, takes over the sen­su­al dom­i­nance of the expe­ri­ence. Remains in mem­o­ry. Deter­mines the photos.

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech
Well hid­den behind the cac­ti shines the blue of the villa

So it’s no won­der that a large num­ber of vis­i­tors wan­der through the gar­den look­ing for some­thing. Sup­plied with snap­shots of oth­er trav­el­ers, their search is for the per­fect spot for a self­ie or a post on Insta­gram. There may be enough time for refresh­ments in the gar­den’s cafe­te­ria, and the vis­it is over.

The Jardin Majorelle is a magical place

But there are also vis­i­tors with calm and the search for tran­quil­i­ty. They get involved with the gar­den, take their time. 

If you dare to exper­i­ment and take a seat on one of the many bench­es, let the place take effect on you, you will expe­ri­ence the whole mag­ic of the Jardin Majorelle! 

A cool breeze gen­tly brush­es over the rest­ing observ­er, makes the great heat out­side the walls of the gar­den fade into the shade of the trees, refresh­es and invig­o­rates the thoughts. 

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech
Cool shade and qui­et water pools in the palm garden

The coo­ing of doves, which call in love for their mate at the very top of the palm trees, can be heard from time to time. The bam­boo grove rus­tles soft­ly, accom­pa­nied by the dis­tant croak­ing of frogs in the water lily pool. Cheeky and demand­ing, the gray bul­bul war­bles its dom­i­nant song in the branch­es of the large trees, accom­pa­nied in the back­ground with emphat­ic feel­ing by the song of a house spar­row or a cac­tus wren.

Those who take time to enjoy the beau­ty of the Jardin Majorelle will feel the true pow­er of the gar­den, the inspi­ra­tion for new ideas, the dreami­ness and the joy of life. The gar­den is a con­stant play of light and shad­ow. Shad­ows that move through­out the day with the sun and its dra­matur­gi­cal play of light, so that no place remains visu­al­ly the same. 

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech
The palm garden

The gar­den is a vir­tu­ous play of pro­por­tions and shapes, in which each trunk of the palms and the bam­boo grove con­veys its own sense of space. And it is a play with sur­faces. Smooth and iri­des­cent sur­faces from the bam­boo alter­nate with the rough trunks of the trees. Flut­ed and with almost sym­met­ri­cal sur­faces, the palm trunks reach high.

In between, the var­i­ous leaves and palm fronds move almost like dreamy dancers in the inter­play of sun and shad­ow, impres­sive­ly rec­og­niz­able in the palm gar­den.  

Bench­es are in many places, they all invite you to take a jour­ney into the hid­den beau­ty of the garden.

The variety of cacti is indescribable

The shade of the palm trees on one side of the cen­tral water­course is answered by the tow­er­ing cac­ti in their raked beds with unob­struct­ed views of the blue sky and blind­ing sun. At the end of the water­course rests a small pavil­ion, per­fect­ly placed in the long line of sight along the water. The water clev­er­ly, almost imper­cep­ti­bly, sep­a­rates the palm grove from the cac­tus gar­den.   

Between the cac­ti, a shad­ow play of thou­sands of spines awaits the eye of the observer.

Sym­met­ri­cal­ly lined up, fol­low­ing nature’s unique blue­print, they pro­tect their wear­ers from unwel­come access. 

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech
Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech

Every now and then a flower attracts insects, promis­es nec­tar, while shin­ing in rich bright colors.

The cac­tus gar­den is char­ac­ter­ized by shapes and rhyth­mic rep­e­ti­tions that let the eye see new pat­terns everywhere.

The garden as a canvas

If you spend a lit­tle time in this place and let your eyes wan­der, you can quick­ly under­stand why it was such an inspi­ra­tion for Yves Saint Laurent.

Shapes, pat­terns, struc­tures, and col­or gra­da­tions are every­where. As a con­trast, Jacques Majorelle’s pic­turesque vil­la all in blue peeks out between this exu­ber­ant trop­i­cal lushness.

It seems as if the life-giv­ing ele­ment of water vir­tu­al­ly springs from the Majorelle blue and thus breathes abun­dant life into the gar­den. Framed in the Majorelle blue, the sym­met­ri­cal water basin sur­round­ed by plants attracts the view­er’s gaze.

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech
Neat­ly raked beds in the palm garden

As if Majorelle had just placed them on the can­vas with a brush, water lily blos­soms in del­i­cate pink and yel­low dance as splash­es of col­or on the water, while in the reflec­tion the blue tones of house and sky merge. Above all, the long fronds of the tall palm trees watch over, repeat­ed­ly form­ing a light-flood­ed canopy, pro­vid­ing shade and rustling with a sil­very sound in the wind.

Mys­ti­cal is the vis­it in the cool of the morn­ing, when the first vis­i­tors are admit­ted and nature from the night still exudes this fresh unspent power.

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech

In the evening, as if a visu­al stock­pile had to be cre­at­ed for the night, the soft light of the set­ting sun enchants the eye of the behold­er. At this time, the blue and the col­ors of the cac­ti appear once again com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, intense, unfor­get­table. Leav­ing the gar­den as one of the last guests is an expe­ri­ence all its own.

Allow yourself enough time in this wonderful garden,
to let the magic work on you.

You won’t regret it!

Jardin Majorelle

Rue Yves Saint Lau­rent
Mar­rakech 40090, Maroc
(+212) 524 29 86 86
Open­ing hours 09:00 — 18:00

For the gar­den, you can buy tick­ets online to avoid waiting.

In the gar­den there is also a small bou­tique and a cafe.

Right next door is the Musée Yves Saint Lau­rent, which is well worth see­ing, with a good cafeteria.

There are also com­bined tick­ets for gar­den and museum.

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