BY SARA WHITE
WHEN people say that Marrakech is an assault on the senses, what they mean is, it’s like waking up in the middle of a major action sequence in an Indiana Jones film. Despite it being only a three hour flight from London, Marrakech manages to pick you up and hurl you head first into its dizzying underbelly, leaving you not knowing which way is up.
Amongst the chaos of snake charmers, whizzing motorbikes, fortune tellers and the never ending labyrinth of souks, you can find a place of cool tranquillity. The Jardin Majorelle in the north of the City is a stunning botanical garden, famously bought by Yves Saint Laurent in 1980 after the threat of destruction. Yves Saint Laurent had an enduring love affair with Marrakech which began with his first visit in 1966. “When I discovered Marrakech, it was an extraordinary shock. The city taught me colour,” he said. The Jardin Majorelle is also the place where his ashes were scattered after his death in 2008.
Jardin Majorelle took over 40 years to create by French Artist Jacques Majorelle, beginning in the 1920’s during the French colonial period. After a car accident, Majorelle died in 1962 and the garden began to fall into disrepair. Such was his passion for Marrakech, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the garden and set about the long and expensive process of restoration.
The gardens are now an absolute feast for the senses. You are immediately hit with a bright cobalt blue, ‘blue Majorelle’ which is used throughout, as well as a surprising palette of bold primary colours. The towering palms enclose you as you make your way around the collection of exotic plants and trees including cacti and bamboo. The lily pond and fountains provide a cool respite from the sweltering temperatures. The garden also plays host to over 15 species of bird including blackbirds, sparrows and robins.
Worth a look as well the Love Gallery, housed within the gardens. Here you can find a collection of “Love” posters Yves Saint Laurent designed over a period of 35 years. Every year he sent them as greeting to his close friends. They are largely made of collages created around the word ‘LOVE’, some featuring his beloved bulldog Moujik!
In a state of total zen after exploring this tranquil garden, you can sip Moroccan mint tea in a secluded courtyard and relax in the shade like the locals. Then, prepare to throw yourself back into the buzzing world or this mysterious city that lies outside the garden walls.
Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech, Morocco www.jardinmajorelle.com
The Jardin de Majorelle is open every day of the year (check opening times)
Entry: 50 Dirham’s
To sleep: We stayed at Villa Amira, a beautiful boutique hotel in the trendy are of Gueliz, in the north of the city. Double room with breakfast. Double Room £55
78, rue Sakia El Hamra, Semlalia, Marrakech, Morocco
To Eat: We ate like Sultans at Le Tobsil, a sumptuous 5 course Moroccan feast for around £45 per head including wine