The garden - also rich in watery pools and jumbo succulents in bright pots - still bewitches with its far-from-the-dusty medina vibe. Picture: Instagram

Le Jardin Majorelle, rescued by Yves St. Laurent, is now overrun by tourists.

During their first jaunt to Morocco in 1966, French-Algerian fashion designer Yves St. Laurent and his lover and business partner Pierre Bergé discovered Marrakesh's Jardin Majorelle, a decrepit two-plus acre complex of plantings, cubist buildings and fountains created by early 20th-century French artist Jacques Majorelle in the tony Gueliz neighborhood.

"It was open to the public yet almost empty. We were seduced by this oasis where colors used by Matisse were mixed with those of nature," Bergé wrote in 2010. 

The pair eventually bought the place in the Ocher City's Gueliz neighborhood (also called the European district) in 1980, saving it from a wrecking ball and restoring its distinctive blue-and-yellow-painted structures and spiky, striking cactus collection. They kept the garden open to the public and lived part of the year in a villa next door.

The garden - also rich in watery pools and jumbo succulents in bright pots - still bewitches with its far-from-the-dusty medina vibe. Except that the smallish gem is now the most visited attraction in all of Morocco, luring 850 000 tourists a year. Lines to buy tickets can snake for an hour or more in the often-sweltering weather. 

Once you're inside, the scene usually leans far from serene. Travellers clad in cobalt dresses or lemon-hued hats (the better to match the surroundings) swarm the blocky buildings and pack the palm-shaded paths, snapping selfies. 

The snug, on-site Berber Museum provides some crowd relief with exhibits of colorful costumes and angular jewelry from the Moroccan tribe that inspired both Majorelle and YSL.

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Location: Rue Yves St. Laurent, Marrakesh, Morocco, jardinmajorelle.com

The Washington Post