Visit of the Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh
Among the 300 varieties of plants that offer their beauty to the public, it stands out from the collections of cactus, banana trees…
Palm trees form a cool oasis to the south of this bucolic complex. To the west of the garden, a magnificent bamboo grove can be seen at the end of a winding alley.
Rare plants originating from dry savannahs and deserts, aloe vera have an alley dedicated to them.
The walk along the paths follows water paths where the blue dominates, we contemplate basins in which float water lilies and lotus.
The bulbuls of the gardens are very numerous and welcome visitors with their songs. In this protected haven of greenery, they are neighbours with sparrows, just as numerous, robins, titmice, warblers or grey flycatchers. Gatherers of the alleys, turtle-doves and pigeons are not to be found alongside storks and kestrels.
The Berber museum
Following the recognition of the Amazigh culture in the new Moroccan constitution in 2011, the Jardin Majorelle is finalizing this project long matured by these two lovers of Berber culture by opening the museum to the public.
Installed in the workshop designed by Paul Sinoir, the Berber museum was inaugurated in December 2011 by the then French Minister of Culture: Frédéric Mitterrand.
The house in which Yves Saint-Laurent lived, who died in 2008, is labelled “Maison des Illustres” and its ashes scattered in the rose garden of the Villa Oasis.
A memorial in the form of a Roman column symbolizes his presence in the garden.
In addition to the Yves Saint Laurent collection, the museum focuses on three themes of Amazigh culture:
The domestic life and the know-how attesting the Berber craft mastery through the domestic objects of everyday life, festivals or rituals.
The ornaments and jewellery highlighting the tribal belonging and status of the women who wear them as well as the work of Berber jewellery craftsmen.
The costumes and pomp that are of paramount importance to the tamazights. Weapons, clothing, weaving, door ornaments decorated with houses show the social rank of each with patterns and colors specific to each tribal group.
The Majorelle garden is open all year round, Avenue Yacoub El Mansour and Rue Yves Saint Laurent.
With 600 000 annual visitors, the Majorelle Garden, now the Majorelle Garden Foundation, is one of the most visited sites in Marrakesh and Morocco.
Opening hours :
October 1 to April 30: 8 am to 5:30 pm.
May 1 to September 30: 8 am to 6 pm.
Ramadan Month: 9 am to 5 pm.
The garden and the museum are handicapped accessible.
Garden: 70 Dh
Museum : 30 Dh
Reduced rates :
Moroccan and foreign university students: 35 Dh for the garden only on presentation of the card.
Free admission to the garden and museum: Children under 9 years old accompanied.
History of Jacques Majorelle, painter explorer
Jacques Majorelle was born at the very end of the 19th century in 1886. After three years of architecture studies and training at the École des Beaux-arts, he undertook many trips very early on, one of which took him to Egypt.
It was from the encounter with this country where he stayed for four years that his passion for Arab-Muslim culture was born.
Invited at the request of General Lyautey, he stayed in Morocco for the first time in 1917. Little sensitive to the climate of Casablanca, he leaves quickly enough for Marrakesh which he uses as a starting point for his future African discoveries.
That same year, he began to paint scenes of marrakchi streets and portraits, including that of Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakesh, in 1918.
He settled there permanently with his wife in 1919, first in a small house in the medina, then at the palace of Pasha Ben Daoud.
Jacques Majorelle then travels several times in all this Moroccan south which inspires him so much and which is at the origin of many of his creations, providing him varied themes inspirations of souk, villages or kasbah.
The beginnings of a famous Majorelle Garden
It was in 1923 that Jacques Majorelle first bought a half hectare plot of land on the outskirts of the medina and palm grove of Marrakesh, which he called Bou Saf Saf, in reference to the poplars planted there, suggesting the presence of abundant water.
He had a Moorish style villa built there, then next door, the Borj, a Berber adobe tower to house his workshops. The estate extended over four hectares and, in 1931, he called on architect Paul Sinoir to build an Art Deco villa next to his first house.
It was on the ground floor, transformed into an artist’s studio, that he painted his immense sets, the first floor being designed for a studio in which he ended up living permanently.
A botanical passion
Passionate about the beauty of plants, he creates a lush botanical garden of Arab-Muslim inspiration. The painter becomes a gardener and architect for this lively and colourful pictorial composition, composed of exotic plants and rare species in which an incalculable number of birds take refuge.
For forty years Jacques Majorelle brought plant species from all continents to perfect his work.
Cactus, water lilies, yucca, lotus, bougainvillea, carob trees, phosphorescent ferns or palm trees form such a musical scope, a harmonious partition around a long central pool alternating perfectly with fountains and basins, water jets, walls, jars and pergolas delivering us a formidable “cathedral of form and colors”.
Garden of exception in Marrakesh
Both intense and clear, Jacques Majorelle created this ultramarine cobalt blue in 1937. He painted the walls of his villa, then, little by little, his whole estate.
Portals and pergolas, jars and ceramics, buildings, his “Majorelle blue” dominates this immense impressionist and tropical painting that he will open to the public in 1947 because this “voracious ogre garden” is expensive.
A difficult end
Despite this, he was forced to divide it during his divorce in 1956. Following a serious accident in 1955, he underwent numerous operations and the amputation of a leg which aggravated his financial situation and forced him to part with the garden and his studio villa.
Victim of a second accident a few months later he is forced to return to France where he succumbs in 1962 leaving behind him the indelible splendour of his garden in Marrakesh.
Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé
It was in 1966, during their first trip to Marrakesh, that they discovered the Majorelle garden and quickly became accustomed to the special atmosphere created by this place, which was not visited enough at the time.
Seduced by this colourful oasis and learning that a hotel complex project in progress was planning the disappearance of the artist’s garden, they decided to acquire it in 1980.
Living in the artist’s home, renamed Villa Oasis, they transformed the painter’s studio into a Berber museum open to the public. Their desire being to make the Majorelle garden the most beautiful garden, the one Jacques Majorelle dreamed of. They are undertaking important work there.
An automatic irrigation system adapted to the needs of each plant at certain times of the day is set up. The number of botanical varieties has increased from 135 in 1999 to 300 now, requiring daily maintenance by 20 gardeners who also take care of fountains and ponds.
Visit Majorelle Garden