Marrakech is one of the places I always wanted to visit.. the name alone has such romantic and exotic associations. This former imperial city resembles an oasis in the desert. It is located in the foothills of the snowcapped Atlas mountains and surrounded by lemon, orange, olive and palm groves. Its walled medieval part, the Medina, dates back to the Berber empire, and Moorish and Berber influences and culture can be seen throughout. To explore the colorful and bustling labyrinth of the souks and markets, to see the splendour of its palaces and riads, to step back in time in the Medina, to wander in exotic gardens and enjoy the rich spiced local cuisine has always been a dream of mine, and I hope you enjoy the travelogue.
The Jardin Majorelle is one of the most famous gardens in the city, and dates back to the first part of the last century when it was created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle who came to live in Marrakech in 1917. In the beginning the garden consisted only of a small plot of land with poplar trees, but the creation of this extraordinary haven of serenity became his lifelong passion. Over time, he bought adjoining parcels of land and constructed Moorish and Berber style buildings where he lived and painted. Following his divorce in 1956 and his death five years later, the garden fell into disarray.
In 1966 Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé discovered the still magical place, and when they learned of plans for the garden to be sold and replaced by a hotel, they quickly reacted and became the new owners. Restoring the garden to its former splendor they moved into one of the buildings, renaming it 'Villa Oasis'. Following his death in 2008, YSL's ashes were scattered in Majorelle's rose garden.
Yves Saint Laurent memorial
Majorelle painted the fountains and walls of this garden in an intense shade of blue, a color known today as 'Majorelle Blue'.
I have a very clear memory of owning an YSL eyeshadow palette in identical colors to the picture below.. it must have been in the early eighties
Capsule wardrobe pieces: white jeans, cream vest and black top
Shoes: black espadrilles
Accessories: Hermès 'Elephant' and 'Torana' printed enamel bracelets. Pendant necklace in or.
Palm tree maintenance
When you leave the gardens, you see the '33 MAJORELLE' concept store right across the road. They stock a fabulous selection of traditional Moroccan items with a modern twist, and most of them are hand made by local artisans. The collection ranges from clothing (kaftans, bathrobes, shirts), and household goods (Moroccan tea sets, tableware, glasses, tablecloths), to woman's wear including accessories scarves and jewellery and children's clothing and toys. It's a perfect place to pick up gifts or enjoy a mint tea and a little something in the adjoining café.
Opposite the store is the small but beautiful Héritage Berbère boutique, which is a great place to buy authentic Moroccan perfumes, room scents and candles. The perfumes are based on natural ingredients from locally grown sources and are created by Marie-Jeanne, who's passion for Morocco lead her to capture the timeless aromas she encountered on her travels throughout the country.
The flacons are decorated with rich colored tassels inspired by the Marrakech souks. The scent that came back home with me - Carnet du Desert
For lunch, head to the Grand Café de la Poste in the heart of the Gueliz quarter. The restaurant's rich history goes back to the 1920's when Jacques Majorelle was a regular. The decor is reminiscent of Marrakech's colonial past... the wooden blinds, potted palms and old fashioned ceiling fans provide an escape from the heat, and you are seated on bistro or wicker chairs at tables decked with crisp white linen cloths. The cuisine is French with Mediterranean and Moroccan accents.
One of the most beautiful spots for an alfresco dinner is the roof terrace at La Sultana hotel... you have magnificent views of the Atlas mountains and the Koutoubia Mosque's tower, while enjoying traditional Moroccan cuisine under a velvet starry sky.
Jardin Majorelle: Rue Yves Saint Laurent, 40 000 Marrakesh www.jardinmajorelle.com
33 RUE MAJORELLE concept store: 33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakesh 40000, Tel: +212 5243-14195
Héritage Berbère: Villa Dar Sabah, Av. Yacoub El Mansour, 40 000 Marrakech, Tel: +212 5243 08 841 www.heritageberbere.com
Grand Café de la Poste: corner fo Avenue Imam Malik and Boulevard Al Mansour Eddahbi, Tel: +212 5243 33038 www.grandcafedelaposte.com
La Sultana: Rue de La Kasbah, Marrakesh 40000, Tel: +212 5243-88008 www.lasultanahotels.com
Coming next - Marrakech part II (of four)