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February 2016

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When I was younger, my mom attempted to teach me how to cook. She’d try to show me how to do certain things, try to get me to recreate them and generally just involve me as much as possible. I was having none of it. I wasn’t interested in the slightest.

This clearly disappointed the Home Economics teacher side of her. Her own daughter didn’t want to learn from her.

I remember my first kitchen disaster when I was around 10 years old, I wanted cake but there was none at home. My mom was out (I wasn’t home alone- our maid at the time was with me) so I thought I’d make a chocolate cake using a box mix that I found. How hard could it be? Very. I didn’t know how long to cook the cake for… this resulted in a very gooey uncooked sunken cake but it was mine. My first creation.

Don’t get me wrong, there were times where I helped my mom. Jam thumb cookies were my favourite, a recipe from my middle school cookbook. Favourite in the sense that I got to eat them all afterwards!

When I moved away to boarding school age 17, I shocked my mom by revealing that I willingly decided to enrol myself into a Home Economics class for some extra credit. Her response? “I’ve been trying to teach you to cook for years and you were never interested!”

I did an entire two-year course in less than 9 months, whizzing through all the set cooking assignments. From making Eve’s pudding to the more savoury feta cheese sambousek, which made me pass my exams with flying colours. A flame was slowly lit.

A trip to Marrakech is impossible without visiting Majorelle Garden, a serene oasis inside city walls and the final resting place of Yves Saint Laurent.

To me, Marrakech is all about colour. Reds, oranges, yellows and blues. You cannot travel anywhere within Marrakech without being amazed at all the colour that surrounds you. It’s no surprise that when Jacques Majorelle made Marrakech his home in the 1920’s that he painted his studio home a vibrant blue, taking influence from all over Marrakech.

Majorelle Garden - Majorelle Painting Studio

Jacques Majorelle and I have something in common- the love of this strong, deep and intense shade of blue. The colour became so renowned with the garden that it was trademarked Bleu Majorelle shortly before his death.

A true colour explosion

The Marrakech colour scheme (as I like to call it!) is also interpreted throughout Majorelle Garden. Vivid, bright, contrasting colours perfectly matched with cacti, bamboo and water fountains in the 2.5 acre gardens tucked away in Rue Yves Saint Laurent.

Majorelle Garden - Colour Explosion

The garden was eventually open to the public in 1947 to help with the growing costs. Forty years of passion and dedication by Jacques Majorelle until his death in 1962 resulted in his greatest masterpiece featuring plants from all five continents. A staggering 300 different plant species now feature. 

Majorelle Garden - Water Lily Pond

Majorelle Garden - Palm Trees

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé discovered Majorelle Garden in 1966, during their first stay in Marrakech and fell in love with this little slice of paradise. After hearing that the garden and villa may be sold to a real estate developer in the 1980’s to be turned into a hotel complex, they bought it!

Over the years, they restored the garden in order to “make the Jardin Majorelle become the most beautiful garden – by respecting the vision of Jacques Majorelle.”  They have truly delivered on this.

Majorelle Garden - Walkway

When Yves passed away in 2008, his ashes were scattered within the rose garden of Villa Oasis and a memorial built within the garden. Designed around a Roman pillar which was brought from Tangier and set on a pedestal with a plate bearing his name for the public to pay their respects.

Majorelle Garden - Yves Saint Laurent Memorial

Serene and Secluded

There is a stark contrast between the hectic city medina and the garden. You are transported to an oasis inside city walls. A secret garden as such. One which I didn’t want to leave. It’s no wonder that this is the most visited “tourist” attraction in Marrakech.

Majorelle Garden - Idillic Canopy

When you enter the garden, an impressive cacti collection catches your eye in the distance. Jacques Majorelle adored cacti, respecting this, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé continued to expand the collection, which today includes about thirty members of the cactus family.

Majorelle Garden - Cacti

Majorelle Garden - Cacti overlooking fountain

Walking along admiring the cacti (and resisting the urge to touch them!) the glorious Majorelle Blue square fountain overlooking the studio is a wonderful location to soak up your surroundings.

Majorelle Garden - Cactus Close Up

Galerie Love 

Tucked away within the grounds of the garden is Galerie Love, a tiny room which houses the entire collection of Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Love Cards’. From 1970 until 2000, he created a card every year to send to his friends and clients to celebrate the New Year. Bold and colourful, he showed his appreciation with a single word- love.

Naturally, I had to hunt out the year I was born- 1982. A beautiful seascape.

Berber Museum

Majorelle’s original studio has been transformed into a museum which is dedicated to Berber culture, housing the personal Berber collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Items displayed show the diversity of Berber traditional skills – whether in wood, leather, pottery, metalwork, or basket weaving – all demonstrate the variety of craftsmanship. I was particularly enamored with all the jewels and their exquisite craftsmanship.

No matter your location whether it be the pavilion, the water-lily pool, the palm trees or en route to the museum, as soon as you hear birds chirping and the smell of exotic plants as the wind blows you’ll soon realize you are in a truly magical place and never want to leave.

Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle)
Rue Yves Saint Laurent
Marrakech, Morocco
Web: jardinmajorelle.com

Opening times
October 1 – April 30: 8 am – 5:30 pm
May 1 – September 30: 8 am – 6 pm
The month of Ramadan: 9 am – 5 pm

Admission
Garden: 70 Dhs (around £5)
Museum: 30 Dhs (around £2)