On our last full day in Marrakech we walked from the Medina to Nouvelle Ville, the part of the city established by the French in the early 20th century.
We came to visit Jardin Majorelle, a garden designed and planted by French expatriate Jacques Majorelle. He moved to Marrakech in 1919 and after buying land in Nouvelle Ville developed the garden in the 1920s and 1930s. The Art Deco villa itself was built by architect Paul Sinoir.
The garden has become very famous due to Majorelle’s use of a vibrant blue that was named Majorelle Blue after him. The garden also features deep reds and yellows, a wonderful number of palm trees and cacti and ponds full of goldfish.
He opened the garden to the public in 1947 and there are a miriad of paths to take that weave in and out of the plants and ponds.
The foundation has some interesting history on the garden here.
Unlike the Medina, this part of town is full of space and light and the garden exemplifies this. It is calm, beautiful and serene.
The primary colours used are wonderful and the natural green of the planting contrasts extremely well. Different textures are featured in the garden with bamboo, cacti and palm trees all making their characters known.
Various water features are dotted around the garden and there a number of places to sit and contemplate. The view to and from the villa is beautiful, it hides itself and shows its bold colours at the same time.
You might have guess that I loved this, I did. It is a stunning place.
Perhaps the most famous place in Marrakech is the Djemaa el-Fna, a large open space in the Medina where tourists and locals congregate all day and night.
We were charmed by snakes, spoken to constantly by the orange juice sellers and I tried to ignore the attentions of the henna artists as we meandered about taking it all in. People and traffic intermingle and the square changes its purpose and intentions from day to night.
One evening I bought a tasty sweet biscuit from the many mothers and children selling them on little trays, and then the next day we were shopping for Christmas presents. This was the best find ever… I won’t say who we bought it for…
As the afternoon turns to evening tables and kitchens are set up, the smell of cooking fills the air – a nice contrast to the constant motorbike fumes, and people settle down to eat.
All the food stalls in the Djemma el-Fna are very cheap, and with an exchange rate of £1 to 13dh you cannot break the bank. We spent about 200dh for the two of us, and dined at Mohamad Ben Ali Safiani aka No. 22 twice.
We ordered a number of dishes including brochettes viande haché (grilled veg), olives, tagine au poulet (chicken), calamares (squid), crevettes (prawns) and some frites (fries stupid), all washed down with a nice bottle of Coke. Mmmmm.
Everything was cooked well and tasted fabulous, and it was just perfect to sit outside in the December air.
We came back the next night after a day trip to the Ouzoud Cascades. We were tired from the sun and the bus journey and it was great to just sit down and be fed immediately.
I had soup this time plus some more seafood. I think I had some lovely lamb kebabs but I don’t have documentary evidence so I could be wrong. 😉
Our two dinners were served with bread and two sauces, one fresh tomato one, and one spicy intense hot one. Yummy.
Oh, and here are some photos of the snakes.
Plus a photo taken from the bottom left of the square, taken on our last evening.
Just before Christmas we went to Marrakech for our summer holiday, and one of my favourite discoveries was the El Badi Palace in the south of the Medina.
Commissioned by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, building began in 1578 and took twenty-five years to complete. However, the palace is now a ruin as it was ransacked and stripped of its jewels and gold during the reign of Ismail Ibn Sharif, 1672–1727.
It doesn’t feel as if much has changed over the centuries as the palace is still barren apart from the orange tree gardens filling two of the sunken courtyard spaces.
The emptiness shows how grand the palace must have been and the space is wonderful to immerse yourself in after the endless dark and winding alleyways of the Medina.
It was a very hot December day when we visited and the sun beat down and shone in the pools in the centre of the enormous courtyard. Cats lazed about all over the place and it was very peaceful.
Storks nest in the ruins of the narrow rooms surrounding the courtyard and very little has been done to turn the palace into a particularly tourist friendly attraction.
I loved this about Marrakech, everything was a little messy and there was no great attempt to present the city in a clean and tidy manner for the tourists.
Wandering around with a map was a stressful experience at times but I think we are supposed to take all as it comes. Once used to it I enjoyed wandering around a city where very little was shown in English. You get much more of a feel for a place if you aren’t obsessively reading all the signage, just accept the fact that you will get lost a few times.
It was also lovely to go out of season and to see a Marrakech with fewer tourists and even fewer English people who I don’t really want to see 1400 miles from home.
The palace has been developed enough so that one corner of the high walls could be accessed by two flights of stairs. As you look over the courtyard you look south past the Medina’s walls.