Moroccan Adventures

Moroccan Adventures

Claybrook recently visited the amazing city of Marrakech in the north west of Africa, home to secret gardens, maze-like alleyways and more hustle and bustle than seems credible in one place. Densely packed, the walled medieval city is renown as a meeting place and economic centre like no other with influences that include Arabian, Berber (a key ethnic group indigenous to North Africa) as well as European.

We had decided to stop off in order to soak up as much of the style and architecture, history and design as possible in 36 hours with a view to launching tile ranges in the future. With the famous souks selling traditional textiles pottery and jewels through to leather, metal and spices, this area alone was an assault on the senses, but one we were excited to experience and absorb.

With fume spilling 2-stroke motorbikes having replaced donkeys as the transport of choice throughout Marrakech, there was an element of risk in stepping out of the riad we had booked. You hear them before you see them but getting trapped behind two or three in the middle of the crowded souk had us reaching for hankies to cover our faces. The locals of course react as if nothing is amiss.


Once we had orientated ourselves on the first morning, we headed to the recently opened secret garden. Le jardin secret harks back to the sixteenth century when the sultan commenced the urbanisation of this outlying district. The palace and gardens were then destroyed, rebuilt again in the nineteenth century and then again fell into disrepair around 1935.

In 2008 it was decided to reimagine this space as a tranquil oasis amongst the thronging crowds and alleyways of Marrakech. Split into two areas; an exotic garden showcasing many plants from all over the world, and the Islamic garden based on the 18th century garden that was here previously. It was an inspirational place with beautiful tiled walkways and small fountains providing a space for peace and contemplation amid the hubbub of the city.

From here we walked over to the photography museum which showcases photographs from around 1870 to the 1950’s with works by early photographers who visited the city. Housed in a former inn, the space offers a glimpse into the near past. It also offers one of the best views of the city and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains from its rooftop café. It was an enchanting place.

Next we headed over to the newly opened musée YVES SAINT LAURENT near to the Jardin Majorele he had acquired and replanted in 1980. The stunning building houses a permanent exhibition space dedicated to the designer, alongside a research library bookshop and café. It was a fantastic opportunity to view the artistic vision and contribution of one man and it was so elegantly presented it really did transport us to the world of haute couture and decadence.

Marrakech Ives Saint Laurent Gardens

We have returned with heads spinning with images and memories, from the ancient tile around the city to jewellery designs from the Yves Saint Laurent collection. We will definitely be back.

Next stop: Scottsdale Arizona….in a coincidental twist, a city twinned with Marrakech.