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Marrakech Gardens


Follow me to...Marrakech!

After our fist attempt at navigating the Medina in Marrakech, I was left a bit overpowered. Yet, stubborn as I am, I was determined to get out there and see all of the marvellous and intriguing monuments that make up this city. 

My travels through Asia have taught me that if you are in need of some peace and quiet, head to ticketed monuments, they tend to be more relaxed once you are inside and you get the chance to look around without worrying about acting too obviously as a tourist.

So, once in Marrakech, we started at Bahia Palace.
The first thing to know about the Palace is that it is nothing like the western-style palaces; there is no impressive front and no towering elevations, as a matter of fact, the entrance is a simple gate with a walkway surrounded by orange trees.
Instead, the palace is a labyrinth of rooms built around little courtyards; the "Coeur de la maison" or "heart of the house", perfectly small microcosms of quiet and greenery. In a way the Palace reflects the centuries-old  lifestyle of Morocco. Houses are inward looking, they offer little escapes from the otherwise busy and commercial Medinas.
"Coeur de la Maison"...first courtyard we got to visit in the Palace, a little oasis of orange trees and birds singing.
One of the state rooms in the Palace, impressive fireplace, only to be topped by the intricate ceiling.
Afternoon sun through the Palace's windows...
We waited and waited for people to move on, so we could take this one... while waiting we had all the time in the world to examine the intricate floor, walls and ceiling mosaics...silver linings! 
Gorgeous, colourful Moroccan mosaics around the water fountain in another of the Palace's courtyards.

The Palace left us in a very calm mood, so out in the busy street of the Medina, into a taxi for the new town and onto the very different neighbourhood of Jardin Majorelle.

The new town of Marrakech could almost be a neighbourhood in any Mediterranean city, it did remind me a bit of Athens to be honest. So, we grabbed an ice-cream each and headed for the entrance...we certainly didn't expect the very long queue outside the gardens in Rue Yves Saint Laurent, which seemed to be particularly populated with some very fashion-conscious tourists. For a second I did think that maybe this is a different "Jardin" to the ones we are used to and that we should have dressed up... but then I realised that it was probably a nod to Yves Saint Laurent, hence they all looked ready to attend London Fashion Week, in contrast to the rest of us, trying to look respectable in the afternoon heat!

When I shared this picture on Facebook someone asked if this is a painting... fair question, we did spend a lot of time just staring at the colours, bold and relaxing at the same time - and no, this is not a painting. 

This garden is a sanctuary of all strange and unusual plants that you wouldn't normally expect to see together in one place: cacti of all sizes, colours and shapes, alongside bamboo lined paths and vibrant lilacs, bright yellows, all showing off in the afternoon sun!
This is a creation of Jaqcues Majorelle, a french painter, who moved to Marrakech in the early 1900's and made this plot of land his life's work. Then Yves Saint Laurent bought the Jardin in the 1960's and raised its' popularity, he even lived here in the villa that is now converted to a Berber museum.
I've always thought that you have to be a particular type of person to like cacti... there's something very independent and lonely about them. 
Left: the last afternoon sun-rays playing through the cacti. Right: One of Yves St Laurent's New Year's cards.

Yves Saint Laurent used to create his own collage cards to send to his friends every New Year, the cards were always themed around love. I'm going to leave you with this lovely thought... off for shisha and cocktails in the sunset, over Jamaa El' Fna.

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