My Magical Visit to YSL's Majorelle Garden in Marrakech
Tall walls hide Marrakech's most glorious sights. Everything in the city has an aura of mystery. Often, you must plead entry at a secure gate, without knowing what magic will await you behind the closed doors. But once you are in, marvelous sounds, smells, colors, and textures will tease all of your senses. A visit to Yves St. Laurent's Majorelle Garden, located in the heart of Marrakech, personifies this experience.
Marrakech is in the desert, but you would never know it from the Majorelle Garden's astonishing lushness. The twittering of exotic birds and the sound of splashing water will instantly soothe your soul. Palm trees provide cooling shade. An abundance of cacti create a multitude of pattern. Winding paths lead to fountains and pavilions dressed in bold colors that recall the paintings of Matisse. It is a true oasis.
French painter Jacques Majorelle, (son of the famous Art Nouveau designer Louis Majorelle) took 40 years to develop the garden to his full vision. He perceived its famous blue color, dubbed Majorelle blue (there is even a YSL nail polish in the hue) while journeying in the nearby Atlas Mountains.
Majorelle constructed a villa in the center of the garden to serve as his artist studio.
Although the villa has largely Art Deco lines, the Moorish architectural details that Marrakech is known for also dot its facade. Today the villa is Pierre Berge' s private home when he is in Marrakech.
Open to the public since 1947, the Majorelle Garden fell into disrepair after Majorelle's death in 1962. Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Berge purchased the site in 1980, to prevent it being developed as a hotel. The duo restored the gardens adding many more plants. After St. Laurent's death in 2008, Berge donated the garden to the Foundation Pierre Berge-Yves St. Laurent.
Yves St. Laurent claimed that the Majorelle Garden was an endless source of inspiration, adding that he often dreamt of its psychedelic colors. His ashes have been scattered in the garden so he can have perpetual sweet dreams.
Tips for Your Visit to the Majorelle Garden
If you are going to Marrakech, you must visit the Majorelle Garden. Go early in the morning to beat the crowds. Afterwards, have a snack or lunch in the Majorelle Garden's delicious cafe.
One of my favorite shops in Marrakech, 33 Rue Majorelle, is just across the street. Finally, before you even pack your bags for Marrakech, read why I had a few uneasy moments there , and get my travel tips so you don't.
All photos by Lynn Byrne.