Jardin Majorelle - History and Facts | History Hit

Jardin Majorelle

Image Credit: Sarah Roller

About Jardin Majorelle

The Jardin Majorelle is a 2.5 acre botanical and artist’s garden in Marrakech, Morocco, which is famously associated with the designer Yves Saint-Laurent.

History of the Jardin Majorelle

In 1917, Jacques Majorelle – the son of a renowned Art Nouveau furniture designer – arrived in Marrakech to convalesce from a period of ill health. Like so many others, he was enamoured with the city, and in 1923, bought a plot of land, building a Moorish style house on it. Eight years later, Majorelle commissioned the architect Paul Sinoir to build a Cubist villa for him, and began to cultivate an elaborate garden with over 135 species of plant from five continents, as well as continuing his passion for Orientalist painting.

The shade of blue that the house is now painted is named after the main himself – bleu Majorelle – and has been patented. In 1947, Majorelle opened his gardens to the public for the first time, charging a small admission fee in order to help finance their upkeep and maintenance. In the 1950s, a costly divorce meant Majorelle had to sell the house, and the gardens quickly fell into a state of disrepair.

Fortunately, in the 1980, the site was saved. Yves Saint Laurent, and his partner, Pierre Bergé had visited in the 1960s and on hearing it was up for sale to developers, stepped in to rescue the gardens. They embarked upon a major restoration project which involved over 20 gardeners and additional plants being brought it, bringing the number of plant species up to 300.

The pair owned the villa and spent time at Jardin Majorelle until Saint Laurent’s death in 2008: his ashes were scattered in the rose garden. In 2010, the Foundation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent took ownership of the villa and site, continuing public access. Pierre Bergé was the director of the Garden’s Foundation until his death in 2017.

Jardin Majorelle today

Jardin Majorelle has become one of Marrakech’s most popular tourist destinations, and the queues are infamous. The introduction of a new online booking system should ease the worst of it, but don’t come expecting an oasis of contemplation and calm – it’s full of Instagrammers and tourists. That’s not to say it’s lost any of its appeal, however. The gardens remain spectacular and beautifully aesthetic, and the Berber Museum (housed in the villa) is a fascinating exploration of cultural heritage.

The gardens are open Wednesday – Sunday year round, but check precise hours, particularly during religious festivals. If you are looking for more tranquillity, try heading in the later afternoon, when the worst of the crowds have been and gone.

Getting to the Jardin Majorelle

The garden is located on the Rue Yves Saint Laurent, close to the Avenue Yacoub el-Mansour, in Marrakech. It’s about a 30 minute walk from the medina, but across busy roads. Alternatively, any taxi in town can take you there easily, or you can hop on a bus to the Boukar Majorelle stop.