The story of The Majorelle Garden

Per: Camille CHATAIGNIER  

CULTURE Majorelle Garden requires no introduction. Its story has embellished Marrakesh’s history even more. Being amongst the most visited places in the city, its visitors have a valid reason to keep coming back to view its beauty. We are about to share with you the story of the garden, its creator and first resident Jacques Majorelle, and without forgetting the duo Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent that have resurrected the garden!

Passion and creation of a lifetime

The Majorelle Garden was first created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, hence the name. The young painter was infatuated by the Islamic world when he first visited Egypt, as he spent 4 years there, after that he was invited by General Lyautey to Morocco, where he discover Marrakesh and completely fell under its charm.

He made the city his home, as he purchased a land amongst the palm trees where he built his modern villa named Bou Saf Saf. It was this land that was later on enlarged and converted into the Majorelle Garden, as he expressed his love for greenery through collecting different plants from all corners of the world. After purchasing the land in 1922, he finally gave it the definitive Jacques touch in 1937 as he painted multiple areas in the garden, from his villa to the pots, the sidewalks and basins; all in primary colors. What stood out the most was the cobalt Blue used for the villa. Through its purchase all the way to 1962 when the painter took his last breath in Paris, he sacrificed 40 years to develop his last piece of art.

Resurrection and legacy

After Jacques Majorelle have passed away, the garden was his legacy that its daily visitors still enjoyed. Among these visitors were Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, they completely fell in love with the garden and its colors. News were declaring that the property is going to be sold and a hotel was going to replace it. Laurent and Pierre acted quickly and purchased the property in 1980, making sure of its survival. The Bou Saf Saf villa was then renamed the Oasis Villa as we know it today, the two heroes of the garden have settled in its villa and made sure to rejuvenate its beauty. From the 135 different plants and species that lived in the garden, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé increased that collection from all corners of the world to 300. More colors, more variety, more life in the oasis. The restoration continued, as they have invested in 20 gardeners working on daily basis to maintain the large green haven. As for the old work shop of Jacques Majorelle, it was converted to an exposition museum, exposing their own personal art, dedicated to the Berber culture. After the death of Yves Saint Laurent on the 1st of June 2008, his ashes were scattered in the rose garden of the villa and a memorial was built in the garden around a roman pillar. In 2010 an exposition named “Yves Saint Laurent and Morocco” as well as the first street named after him.