Yves St Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens Marrakech, an artists paradise
I decided my next day in Marrakech would be a lazy one so, on Mohammed’s recommendation, I took a gentle ride in a caleche to the Majorelle Gardens. Basically there are two ways to travel around Marrakech, petit taxis, and caleche. Petit taxis can be picked up almost anywhere, you will see queues of them waiting outside most hotels. They and are cheap, if a little rickety and the driving will probably have you squeezing your eyes shut most of the time. Always make sure you negotiate a price before you get in and you will have no problem. The more sedate, if slightly smellier way to get around is by caleche. These horse drawn carriages can also be found almost everywhere and, while the horses will not look as well cared for as those you see in the UK, you can be sure that they are well looked after. The horse is the caleche drivers livelihood and as such will be fed and cared for better than himself or his family. Once again, always negotiate a price before you get in.
My caleche driver took me around the pink walled medina and through the crowded streets to the Majorelle gardens. I felt like a princess perched high in the green carriage with the horse trotting at a sedate pace through all the madness and traffic of the city. I really recommend this as a form of transport.
The gardens are on a quiet street and, although they are smaller than I expected, they are a beautiful and cool place to linger on a hot morning. Designed by watercolour artist Jaques Majorelle in 1924 they were bought and restored by Yves Saint Laurent in 1980. They provide a shady oasis of blue and green in contrast to a predominantly pink and dusty city. The shade of cobalt blue used for the buildings was specially created by Majorelle and is called bleu Majorelle in his honour. Definitely a good place to spend a morning.
Gardens are one of my passions and I could easily have spent the whole day wandering around the cool, shady paths marvelling at the plants. there can be no mistake that this is a garden designed by an artist. There is something new to see around every corner, ponds, both formal and informal, fountains, cacti, palms, bamboo and beautiful pots standing on pink pebbles. One pond, my favourite, filled with Lilly pads, reminded me of a Monet watercolour. Even if you’re not a fan of gardening, you can’t fail to be amazed by the sheer number of plants and features packed into this little space. Packed as it is though it somehow manages to keep and air of peace and calm.
If you feel like a break, there is a café where you can sit and relax over a coffee or mint tea if you want to go native. The Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech can also be found here with North African textiles, ceramics, paintings and jewellery from Saint Laurent’s personal collection. Originally Majorelle’s workshop, designed by architect Paul Sinoir, St Laurent has transformed it into a museum housing his personal art collection. This is well worth a look as you will find some of Majorelle’s own paintings, jewellery and ceramics. There is also a small shop with very beautiful, if expensive souvenirs.
It was hard to drag myself away and go back to my calech and the Es Saadi Hotel.