Marrakech isn’t all markets, busy streets and snake charmers you know.
There are lush gardens and palaces to explore too.
This one I want to take you to is a bit of a secret. Marrakech’s best kept secret, you could say.
February in Morocco is a funny time. It can be very hot, it can be quite chilly.
Be sure to pack your usual dresses and comfy clothes for exploring, but throw in a few jumpers for good luck. You may need them, particularly in the evenings.
Long dresses are best for exploring the old town, and avoid showing any cleavage. You can still dress as nicely as you please, just think old school glamour.
We bid a fond farewell to our pretty riad…
…and strolled out into the old streets of the Medina.
Weaving through the maze of busy streets (get a better look at them here) to our secret garden.
A sixteenth century palace in the heart of Marrakech.
Welcome to Le Jardin Secret.
Two beautiful courtyards, filled with lush green gardens.
The larger has been restored as an Islamic paradise garden, reflecting the pure geometry and Koranic symbolism of its progenitors.
The smaller garden shows another view of paradise, as described in the Old Testament book of genesis, where “out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food.” And focuses around a beautiful hand painted gazebo.
How do I know it’s hand painted?
Well… it’s not quite done yet!
The restoration of the palace has taken ten years, and the gardens have only just opened their doors to the public for the first time in hundreds of years.
Filled with twittering birds and babbling fountains, it’s an incredible place to sit and enjoy the winter sunshine.
“The four-part layout of the Islamic garden (which was previously encountered as early as in the sixth century BC in the Persian gardens of Cyrus the Great, and in Morocco at the turn of twelfth century), designed to facilitate the irrigation of the grounds, reminds you of the description of heaven as narrated in the Quran.
The garden is as a matter of fact a metaphor of heaven; it is a sacred place, laid out according to rigid geometrical rules, in which the Muslim order asserts itself over the wild disorder of nature.”
You can climb the furthest tower and look out over the city, and take tea on the terrace.
Any excuse for a cuppa!
Whatever time of year you visit, be sure to stop in.
It’s the perfect respite from the madness outside. In fact it feels like its own little world.
You could have lunch right there in the gardens, but I have another garden to show you.
It’s only a short walk away, and you may make a friend along the way.
Follow the breadcrumbs left through the Medina, now and then you’ll spot a green sign like this…
Follow them and you’ll find yourself at Le Jardin.
A restaurant in the courtyard garden of a 16th Century riad, specialising in good local food with modern twists.
A little shop.
And sunny tables.
Try the juices (I like a mix of orange and lemon juice, I’m a sucker for sweet/sour!).
Tuck into tagines with melt in the mouth chicken, apricots and olives.
Surrounded by very friendly locals…
And be sure to stop off on your way home for dessert.
The ripest, plumpest, juiciest, biggest strawberries of your dreams.
Just the thing for snuggling up with a good book back at the riad.
Berry nice indeed.