Enchanting, inspiring, breathtakingly beautiful—these are the adjectives most commonly used to describe Marrakesh’s Jardin Majorelle, or Majorelle Garden. Located just northwest of the city’s medieval medina walls, the garden is a 2.5-acre oasis in the heart of the Moroccan imperial city. It’s also an important tourist attraction in its own right, welcoming more than 700,000 visitors every year. Here's how to fall under the garden's spell with a visit of your own.
The Garden’s History
The plot that is now renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful botanical gardens was purchased by French Orientalist artist Jacques Majorelle in 1923. Prior to that, it was little more than an untamed grove of wild palms in the French-occupied Ville Nouvelle area of Marrakesh, which Majorelle had fallen in love with after being sent to Morocco to convalesce from a serious illness some years previously. The artist took up residence on the property with his wife, Andrée Longueville, and began the landscaping project that would become his life’s work with the planting of exotic botanical specimens from all over the world.
In the 1930s, the couple moved into a Cubist villa on the property designed for them by French architect Paul Sinoir. Majorelle had the exterior painted in a very specific shade of deep blue that he had developed himself after drawing inspiration from the blue-painted towns of southern Morocco. This shade, which he would later patent and which is still known today as Majorelle Blue, is prevalent throughout the gardens. Over the next few decades, the garden became a place of such beauty that it is the masterpiece for which Majorelle is best remembered.
To offset the cost of its maintenance, the artist opened the garden to the public in 1947, but sold it soon afterwards in the wake of his divorce from Longueville. From the 1950s onwards, the villa and gardens fell into a worsening state of disrepair.
After injuries sustained in a car crash forced him to return to Paris, Majorelle died of complications in 1962. His beloved garden was mostly forgotten about, until it was rediscovered in the 1980s by legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his label co-founder, Pierre Bergé. The pair, who were both romantic and business partners, purchased the garden to save it from being destroyed to make way for a new hotel development. They soon moved into Majorelle’s villa and began the labor of love required to restore the garden to its original grandeur. Yves Saint Laurent called the garden “an endless source of inspiration,” saying that he often dreamed of its “unique colors.” When he died in 2008, his ashes were scattered there.
Since 2011, the garden has been managed by the Foundation Jardin Majorelle, a non-profit directed by Bergé until his death in 2017. It is once again open to the public, and hailed as one of Marrakesh’s most beautiful attractions.
The Garden Today
Today, the Majorelle Garden is entirely enclosed by boundary walls. Inside, its exotic shapes and riotous primary colors reflect Majorelle’s identity as a painter rather than a formal landscaper, creating a magical space in which to regain a sense of serenity after a busy morning in the souks. Discover sculpted flower beds and labyrinthine alleyways, towering groves of bamboo and coconut palms, cacti in fantastical shapes, and tumbling screens of purple bougainvillea. Water features take center stage throughout the garden, with channels, pools, and musical fountains all employed to create distinct spaces for relaxation and reflection. This abundance of food and water attracts many different species of birds, 15 of which are endemic to North Africa.
The garden’s blue-painted buildings are equally beautiful, seamlessly blending Art Deco and Moorish architectural influences. Majorelle’s old studio now houses the Berber Museum, a celebration of the incredible creativity of the Berber people of Morocco. Discover more than 600 artifacts in elegantly curated displays, ranging from North African textiles and ceramics to intricate traditional jewelry. Each item comes from the personal collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé.
In 2017, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris opened a sister museum in Marrakesh, located directly next door to the Majorelle Garden. Here, displays show how heavily Yves Saint Laurent was influenced by Moroccan culture, colors, and landscapes with rotating displays of the designer’s clothing and accessories. Of particular interest are his personal artifacts and sketchbooks full of preliminary designs. The museum also includes a book shop and terrace café.
The Majorelle Garden has its own restaurant and retail boutique, too. Housed in the former servants quarters, The Café Majorelle impresses with rammed earth architecture of the kind favored by the Berbers, and an interior courtyard planted with fragrant white bougainvillea and orange trees. Come for a refreshing glass of Moroccan mint tea or seasonal fruit juice, or peruse an à la carte menu featuring healthy dishes made with fresh, local produce. The boutique sells handmade Moroccan clothing, homeware, and souvenirs from the country’s best artisans (think embellished slippers, jewelry, and handbags).
How to Visit
The Majorelle Garden is located in the Ville Nouvelle, on Rue Yves Saint Laurent. Ask any petit taxi driver; they will know where it is. The garden is open every day of the year, at the following times:
- October 1 to April 30: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- May 1 to September 30: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Ramadan: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For foreign adults, admission costs 70 dirhams each. Entry is free for accompanied children under 12 years of age, while significant discounts are available for Moroccan citizens and residents, university students, school groups, and non-profit organizations. Admission to the Berber Museum costs an additional 30 dirhams, while the Yves Saint Laurent Museum charges 100 dirhams. You can purchase tickets at the door; however, it is advisable to book online for a specific time slot in order to avoid having to queue. The most peaceful times to visit are in the hour after the garden opens, and in the hour or two before it closes. Crowds are common in the middle of the day, especially in peak season. Majorelle Garden is wheelchair-friendly.