Magic Marrakech 2 - The Green & Prickly Part
It can be reached by taking one of the cheap yellow taxis, riding in one of the caleches (a horse-drawn carriage) or the open-top tourist bus. Or, like us, you can simply walk. Many guide books seem to exaggerate the distances and what is 'walkable' but then maybe they are not written for Little Trekker families used to walking.
One of the key challenges throughout our stay was to leave and enter through the right gate in the Medina walls, but after a bit of trial and error we found the right one and headed up the right road. Our main destination for the day was the Majorelle Garden and we had been told we would be able to see the palm trees rising in the centre of the garden from a distance - and indeed, across an area of waste ground a dense forest could be seen behind some typically terracotta walls.
After some adventurous road crossing (not for the faint hearted - keep that in mind when opting for the walking option!) we arrived at our destination, which appeared like a little oasis amidst the traffic chaos of a dusty North African city.
The Majorelle Garden covers a twelve acre area and is as much a botanical garden as it is an artist's landscape garden. It was designed and developed by the artist Jacques Majorelle over a 40 year period, and was later, after falling into disrepair, bought and renovated by Yves Saint-Laurent.
Whilst the Majorelle Garden is one of the main attractions of Marrakech some tourist reviews we read beforehand were critical of it - too small, not very interesting, etc So we weren't quite sure what to expect, but after entering our first reaction was WOW, just WOW!
Even on a not-really-hot December day stepping into the garden is an amazing and refreshening experience. Right after the entrance you find yourself in a bamboo grove which creates a lovely canopy under which you can sit and gaze up. We were lucky to be there early, so there were few other people which meant we could just sit and enjoy for ages.
There is a meandering network of paths through the garden but with plenty of opportunities to peek around corners and find little special places or water features. Much to Stewart's delight we even found a little pond with goldfish (he did miss fishing!). Corwin loved absolutely loved exploring and again as it was not too crowded he had a lot of space to do so.
One of the key colours used in the garden is blue - a blue even named after the artist - Majorelle Blue! In one end of the garden you can find the Berber Museum, and the building is painted in this blue, which creates a wonderful backdrop for the green and lush vegetation. We did not visit the museum but just continued to explore the part of the garden that is dedicated to cacti. Jacques Majorelle was especially interested them and started the collection, which Yves Saint Laurent later expanded. Now there are around thirty members of the cactus family. Corwin - who always seemed fascinated by cacti, but restricted to what the garden centre has to offer, absolutely loved them. He was excitedly running around and sharing his latest discoveries. They come in all shapes and sizes, some of them huge. We could have spent an hour in this section alone and would not have tired looking. Some benches are dotted around and there is also a small cafe (which is quite expensive, so remember to bring your own drinks or when it's busy they also sell water in a stall just after the entrance).
In some way we really did not want to leave this lush and green oasis, but in the end decided it was time to explore the rest of the new town. On our return, just before re-enterting the Medina, there was another lovely park though - the Arsat Moulay Abdeslam Cyber Park. Eight hectares in size it was commissioned by Prince Moulay Abdeslam in the eighteenth century. Originally a food producing area it later become a botanical garden during French occupation. Today the garden is lined with olive trees (which Corwin loved as he can't get enough of eating olives!), lemon and mandarin trees. And why is it a Cyber Park you will ask? A few years back it has been restored and a range of internet kiosks and WiFi were installed. There is also a small telecommunications museum at the entrance to the park. And not to forget especially if you explore the garden with children - there is an abundance of cats in the garden who can be seen stretched out on walls, sunbathing, or simply roaming around.
We thoroughly enjoyed our lush, green and prickly adventure on our second day in Marrakech! Apart from being a feast for the eyes there was plenty of opportunity for Corwin to run around and explore, which after the narrow streets of the Median was a real bonus and something much cherished.
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Monika (an Austrian in Scotland), Stewart (a true Highlander) and Corwin (8), plus 2 dogs and 5 cats. We live on a woodland croft in the parish of Assynt, in the far North West Highlands of Scotland.
Favourite place in the world:
Home - we are lucky to have mountains and beaches on our doorstep and Scotland generally; but we also love the mountains in my native Austria and have a soft spot for California, where we spent our honeymoon.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Explovering (our personal term for exploring and discovering) mountains, lochs and beaches, camping, foraging, star gazing, Geocaching, developing our already wonderful woodlands into a magic place to share with family, friends and neighbours and fishing.