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Maud’s Travels Marrakech Part 2

Three Things To Do In Marrakech

1. Take a stroll in the Majorelle Gardens

Majorelle gardens

The Majorelle Gardens were created by the French painter, Jacques Majorelle, in 1923 and opened to the public in 1947. Majorelle was passionate about plants and collected rare species from all over the world on his travels.

The gardens have been designed with a painter’s eye. Majorelle cleverly used pops of bold cobalt “Majorelle” blue, lemon, orange and green on the walkways, buildings and planters in the gardens which contrast beautifully with the surrounding greenery.

Majorelle died in 1962 and the gardens were save from developers by pierre Berger and Yves St Laurent. They restored the gardens, adding lots of new plants, there are now over 300 varieties and an irrigation system.

It’s a lovely place to stroll through in the morning before it becomes busy. I recommend getting there at 8am if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet and take some photos.

2. Visit the Berber museum

Berber spindles

The Berber museum is located within the Majorelle gardens in Jacques Majorelle’s old studio. The exhibits are from Pierre Berger and Yves St Laurent’s private collection of Berber artifacts which centres around objects and tools used in daily life, Berber jewellery and tribal clothing. It’s a fascinating insight into the history of the oldest people in North Africa.

3. Visit the new Yves St Laurent museum

The Yves St. Laurent museum in Marrakech

Yves designed his haute couture collections in Marrakech. The Yves St Laurent museum contains a collection of fifty items of clothing, accessories, sketches and photographs. You can see St Laurent’s famous pea coat, Mali dress and Le Smoking jacket. It’s clear from the drawings and prototypes the influence of Morocco and travel on his designs.

The museum was designed by Parisian architects Studio KO who have used clever brickwork patterns to create a textured surface resembling woven thread. The brickwork echoes the colours of the Medina and the interior features wonderful zelig tiles.


The Majorelle Gardens, the Berber museum and the Yves St. Laurent museum are all situated in on Rue Yves St Laurent in Gueliz in Marrakech. You can buy an entry ticket to all three attractions online here.

In addition to these three things to do in Marrakech take a look at these posts:

Moroccan Recipes With A Contemporary Twist

Moroccan recipes

If you have read some of my previous blog posts you will know that I love Moroccan food: the mouth-watering appetisers, the mix of spices in the tagines, the couscous, and the sweet, sticky, pastries. Despite purchasing local spices in the souks and asking for recipes when I am travelling I have struggled to recreate some of the dishes so I was pleased to discover that the chef and creator of the website, My Moroccan Food, Nargisse Benkabbou, has written a cookery book. Casablanca is packed with mouth-watering Moroccan recipes.

Moroccan Staples

The book includes the staples of Moroccan cuisine: the traditional spice mix, ras el hanout and three variations of harissa, the paste from chillies and sweet red peppers. Chermoula, the garlicky, lemony, sauce with parsley, coriander, paprika and cumin, which adds a kick to a dish is also included.

Contemporary Moroccan Recipes

Nargisse has taken these traditional flavourings and added a contemporary twist. For example, there is a recipe for ras el hanout in a crab and cauliflower soup, sticky ras el hanout and peach short ribs, and a ras el hanout carrot cake. Chermoula, traditionally used with vegetables and fish is sweetened and added to beef and to cheese with aubergines. Harissa is combined with lemon in a chicken tray bake with sweet potatoes and cauliflower.

There are tagine recipes, mouth-watering fish recipes, like the Essaouira fish couscous, lemon honey and rose Swiss chard stuffed bream and chermoula crumbed cod. The bread recipes range from Khobz, the bread you will see at most meal times to Mlaoui flatbreads, often served at breakfast and amlou rolls.

Moroccan recipes

To date I have made the pistachio, orange and olive oil flourless cake, pictured above, which is deliciously moist and full of flavour and chermoula with crumbed cod. Not in the book but also recommended is a recipe for beetroot, chocolate and rose brownies which can be found on Nargisse’s website.

Moroccan recipes

If you like Moroccan food and like to experiment with flavours I recommend this book of Moroccan recipes with a contemporary twist. Casablanca is published by Mitchell Beazley and is available here.

Read our Q&A with Nargisse Benkabbou here

Find out how Khobz is baked in the Medina here

Please note this post is not an ad.

Why Wool? Five Facts About Wool


Why Choose Wool?

  1. Wool is hypoallergenic, antibacterial and resistant to dust mites.
  2. It’s 100% biodegradable.  At the end of its life it can be returned to the soil where it will break down in a short period of time fertilising plants with nitrogen as it decomposes.


3. It’s anti-static.  It generates very little static electricity because of the qualities of its natural fibres.  Static attracts dirt and dust so its anti-static properties keep it cleaner for longer.

4.It absorbs harmful pollutants from the air and does not re-emit them.  It is estimated that use of wool in interiors can help purify the air for 30 years.

5. It’s easy to clean.  Its surface consists of microscopic fibres, like overlapping scales, which means that the dirt sits on the top of the fibres and can be easily removed with a vacuum cleaner.

fringe cushions

Maud interiors wins an award for customer service


We’ve won a customer service award from Houzz, the largest online home interiors community with 40 million users globally.  We are a bit late finding out but it’s not every day we win an award so we had to post about it.   The award is based on customer feedback so we would like to thank all our lovely customers for taking the time to submit a review of their shopping experience with us.


customer service award

A Traditional Riad With A Contemporary Twist

The New Extension To Riad 72, Marrakech

I wanted to write about the new addition to Riad 72 after my visit in September last year but I was sworn to secrecy as it was still a work in progress.  The new section, an ancient Riad adjacent to the existing Riad is now open for business so I can share my photos with you.

The owner, Giovanna Cinel, the architects and interior designers, Project Ch(ouf) have created a sleek modern look using traditional Moroccan crafts: zellij tiles, turned wood and tadelakt in a contemporary colour palette.


The Tiles

The Riad courtyard features traditional Zellij tiles in a striking pattern of dark cherry,rich plum, pale pink, beige and  cream.  The tiles were individually handcrafted and it took over a month to lay the floor.  Sunlight reflecting on the surface of the tiles creates the illusion of rippling water and when you look down on the courtyard from the floor above it looks as if vines are trailing toward the central fountain.





Pale Tadlakt Walls, Carved latticework balconies and horseshoe arches

Look up to the first floor and you can see the creamy white tadelakt walls, the horse shoe shaped arches and the handcrafted wooden latticework balconies in a contrasting taupe.  The window frames and traditional wooden Moroccan doors are also in taupe contrasting beautifully with the walls and the zellij tiles.



A mix of old and new

Plush velvet sofas, brass tables and geometric wallpaper work well with vintage flea market finds and create an elegant space.    The designers have cleverly brought the colours of the Medina into the Riad using a rich palette of reds and pinks.



You can read my earlier post on Riad 72 here.

Click here to book a stay at this wonderful Riad.

Read my Marrakech highlights here.


Note: This is not a sponsored post.

The Christmas Fair In The Cotswolds


Cotswolds fair


We will be popping up at the fabulous Cotswolds Christmas Fair this year with our range of hand-woven blankets and throws, stunning Moroccan wedding blankets and beautiful hand embroidered cushions.


The fair is at Daylesford organic farm in Kingham and is in support of WellChild, the national charity for sick children.  There will be 180 stands featuring a wonderful range of  homeware, jewellery, childrenswear, toys, Christmas decorations and gifts plus free workshops and cookery demonstrations.


Dates and times

6th November: 6pm – 9.30pm

7th and 8th November: 9.30am – 4pm

Click here for ticket information and directions.




ChildHope and Pendekezo Letu transforming the lives of girls in Nairobi’s slums

Back To School

I attended a ChildHope presentation in the summer and I wanted to share with you the work they are doing with Kenyan NGO, Pendekezo Letu, to rescue young street connected girls in Nairobi’s slums and help them into mainstream education.
ChildHope and Pendekezo Letu

There are an estimated 60,000 children* living and working on the streets in Nairobi. Life in the city’s slum settlements is one of extreme poverty and deprivation.  Slum dwellers lack access to basic services such as water, sanitation and healthcare and levels of unemployment and violent crime are high.  Sarah Mbira, the Director of Pendekezo Letu, explained how they are helping young girls, aged 6 to 13, living and working in the slum settlements, who are the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Struggling To Survive In The Slums

Every year PKL helps one hundred girls. The girls are found by social workers begging, working on the streets or scavenging on refuse sites where they are exposed to toxic fumes, dangerous waste and abuse. Girls like 12-year-old, Linit, who with her grandmother, was struggling to support a family of six.  She was working ten hours a day in hazardous conditions collecting plastic and glass on a dump site and earning just 25p.   When a team from Comic Relief, which funds this project, visited her at home they discovered it was the first time Linit and her family had eaten in two days.

Linit has now been enrolled on PKL’s  intensive ten-month programme at their rehabilitation centre. She will be provided with remedial education, three meals a day, healthcare, life skills and counselling. It’s a safe environment where she can laugh, learn and be a child again.  After the 10-month period she will be enrolled in a mainstream primary school and rejoin her grandmother and the rest of the family.


ChildHope and Pendekezo Letu

ChildHope and Pendekezo Letu

Helping The Parents To Become Self Reliant

Many of the children PKL works with have ended up working on the streets due to parental unemployment and illness. Whilst they are on the rehabilitation programme PKL works with their family members to improve their health, wellbeing and economic status so they can support their children. They provide training and loans to enable them to start a small business or vocational training, like carpentry, hairdressing and sewing.  

ChildHope and Pendekezo Letu


Sara told us about two girls, Nadia and Saara, aged 11 and 9, who social workers found ten years ago struggling to support a family of eight.  Both their parents were suffering from AIDS and were too weak to stand.  The girls were giving any food they managed to buy to their parents and were malnourished and traumatized by their parents’ suffering.  They were enrolled on PKL’s ten month programme and the parents were provided with medical help, food supplements and small business training.  Today both girls are studying at university and the parents are running a small greengrocers.

ChildHope and Pendekezo Letu


Transforming Lives

ChildHope and Pendekezo Letu have been working together for nineteen years and have helped 1,779 young girls and their families escape a life of poverty.  You can find out more about this life changing, project, the work of ChildHope and how you can get involved here.




*Cottrell-Boyce, Joe (2010). “The role of solvents in the lives of Kenyan street children: an ethnographic perspective” (PDF). African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies 9 (2): 93–102

Ben Youssef Madrasa Marrakech

The Ben Youssef Madrasa was the largest Islamic theological college in Morocco.  It was founded in the 14th century by the Marinid Sultan Abu al-Hassan and further developed by Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib in the 16th century in order to rival the madrasas of Fez.

It’s a wonderful example of Moorish architecture, with its carved Atlas cedar windows and wooden lattice screen balconies, five colour zellij tiling, stucco designs on the walls and a marble mihrab, which indicated the direction of Mecca.

The main courtyard (below) is breathtakingly ornate and features a large filled basin of shallow water in the centre.  The college is no longer in use but there were once students residing in the 132 dorm rooms arranged around the courtyard.  In stark contrast to the inscriptions and patterned stucco and colourful tiling on the exterior walls the dorm rooms are small and spartan (final photograph).

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Ben Youssef Madrasa




Ben Youssef Madrasa

My advice is to visit the Ben Youssef Madrasa when it opens at 8am before it gets too busy and before the sun becomes too bright to take photos of the courtyard.  Click here for directions.

If you visit the Madrasa I also recommend that you visit the Maison de la Photographie and see the wonderful collection of old photos of Morocco as it is nearby.  Click here for directions.

For other suggestions on what to see and do in Marrakech click on Morocco on the right hand side of this blog.

Moroccan Wedding Blankets

Vintage Moroccan wedding blankets, also known as handira or tamizart, have been popular with interior designers and stylists for some time.  The neutral colour palette of the blankets makes them an extremely versatile addition to a bedroom or sitting room.  They add elegance, texture, pattern, glamour and sparkle and can be used in a variety of ways: as a coverlet or footer on a bed, over the back of a sofa or a chair, as a stylish headboard, a casual throw or as a wall hanging.  Have a look at the Pinterest board below for some ideas on how you can use wedding blankets in your home.  Scroll down the Pinterest board with your mouse to see all the images.

Hand Woven By The Mother Of The Bride For Her Wedding Day

There are different types wedding blanket in Morocco.  The cream and white variety comes from the mid Atlas mountains where they are hand-woven by the mother of the bride and her female relatives in preparation for her wedding day. They are woven from local wool and cotton in a natural palette of cream and white and can take several weeks or months to complete.  Each piece is unique and reflects the skill and creativity of the weaver.  Many blankets feature bands of kilim weaving, sometimes concealed by cotton fringing on the front but visible on the back.  These coloured kilim bands often contain talismanic symbols conveying the hopes of the bride’s mother for her future prosperity, fertility and happiness.


Each sequin is sewn on by hand.  The sequins form small clusters or rows or both and are said to ward off the evil eye.  It’s also possible that their similarity to small coins is intended to symbolise future wealth.  They also reflect the light whether it’s the light of the fire in the evening or daylight sun.


The blankets are worn like capes either over the head or around the shoulders and tied at the neck.  They are traditionally worn by the bride on her journey to her husband’s home.  After the marriage they are used as bed or wall coverings to decorate the marital home.

Our stock of vintage Moroccan wedding blankets is constantly changing but you can see a selection below.

Moroccan wedding blankets

Photos: Kristy Noble and Dave Bullivant

You can see our full range of vintage Moroccan wedding blankets here and our range of cushions from vintage Moroccan wedding blankets here.  We think that as well as adding glamour to your home they would make a wonderful wedding present.

Le Jardin Secret Marrakech

Marrakech’s Secret Garden

Tucked away behind 30 foot walls on Rue Mouassine in the Medina is Le Jardin Secret, Marrakech’s Secret Garden.  It’s a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the medina and take refuge in the tranquil courtyard gardens of one of Marrakech’s largest and oldest riads.

Le Jardin Secret

The Story Behind Le Jardin Secret

There is evidence of a palace on the site of Le Jardin Secret dating back to the reign of Sultan Moulay ‘Abd-Allah al-Galib in the sixteenth century, however what you can see today is the reconstruction of a riad, which was built at the beginning of the nineteenth century by the leader of the Haha tribe, Kaid al-Hajj Ab-Allah U-Bihi.  The kaid subsequently fell out of favour with the Sultan and was poisoned by him.  The last inhabitant of the riad was watchmaker and Chamberlain to the Sultan, Mohammed Loukrissi.  Loukrissi lived in the palatial compound with his three wives and children until his death in 1934.  After his death ownership of the riad was divided up amongst his descendants and it fell into disrepair.

The riad was rediscovered by Lauro Milan, the owner of Cafe Arabe, which stands opposite Le Jardin Secret, and his business partner, Sante Giovanni Albonetti.  They were curious about what lay behind the imposing walls and discovered a shanty town of dwellings on the site of a nineteenth century palace.  After lengthy negotiations with the 130 plus inheritors they purchased the site initially intending to build a hotel but once the shacks were removed and it became clear that this was a site of historical interest the decision was made to restore the riad and the gardens and create a visitor attraction.

The Riad Gardens

Award winning gardener, Tom Stuart Smith, was responsible for the garden design and the planting in the two courtyard gardens.  Both gardens adhere to the original nineteenth century layout but are very different from each other.  The larger of the two, with its strict geometric structure and planting, remains faithful to the Islamic original whilst the smaller, Exotic garden, is a visual mix of sculptural and textural planting and bold bursts of colour using  drought resistant plants which would not have been available in Morocco in the nineteenth century.

The Islamic Garden

The layout of the Islamic garden follows a pattern called the Chahar bagh, meaning fourfold garden.  The earliest example of this style of garden dates back to 500BC in Pasargadae in Iran where the four quarters of the garden were divided by irrigation channels.  Initially this layout was developed to facilitate irrigation however with the rise of Islam in the 7th century this division of the garden into four sections came symbolically to represent the description of paradise in the Koran.

There are four essential elements to an Islamic garden: water for irrigation, which is viewed as a blessing from heaven, shade, the chahar bagh and enclosure; a space separated from the outside, a private paradise.

Le Jardin Secret

Staying true to the traditional design, the most important paths are tiled with terracotta bejmat tiles in a greenish turquoise glaze.  The herringbone pattern and variations of green in the tiles create the illusion of running water.

le jardin secret

In an Islamic garden the planting as well as the garden layout follows a strict format.  The most important trees are the fig, the olive, the date palm and the pomegranate, all of which have religious significance. Tom Stuart Smith has added sweet orange, lemon and argan trees to the mix and planted rosemary, grasses, lavender,  jasmine, tuberose, damask rose, musk rose, Turkish tea sage and grape-vine beneath the trees to create a meadow effect.

Le Jardin Secret

The pavilions surrounding the Islamic garden have been reconstructed using 19th century techniques.  The larger of the two pavilions the Oud el Ward(above), named after one of Loukrissis’ wives features a room with a dome or qubba, which was designed for Loukrissi to receive guests and a 17m tower.  The tower, which is the height of many of the mosque minarets, and the qubba both indicate Loukrissi’s status as does the private hammam which is to the side of the garden.  If you visit make sure to visit the tower as the views from it extend over the city to the Atlas mountains.

Le Jardin Secret

The restored riads feature hand sculpted plasterwork, traditional tadelakt walls and ornate painted wooden ceilings and doors.

Le Jardin Secret

Originally water for the gardens would have come from the Atlas mountains to Marrakech via an underground system of tunnels known as khettaras developed by the Almoravids in the eleventh century.  The water flowed from the mountains to huge tanks in the Agdal and Menara gardens and from there via gravity to the mosques, public water fountains and hammams in the city.  The khettara system hasn’t been in use since the 1950s so an existing well was redug in one corner of the garden and supplies the water for both gardens. The rills and paths and irrigation channels are set above the planted level of the garden so that water can spill over and irrigate the gardens.

Le Jardin Secret

Decorative benches are placed by the fountains so that you can sit, listen to the trickle of water and the birdsong and enjoy the serenity and calm of this elegant garden.

The Exotic Garden

Walk into the Le Jardin Secret from Rue Mouassine and your senses are immediately awakened by the trickle of water along irrigation channels and overspilling from fountains, the modern Moroccan architecture, the birdsong and the splashes of colour, and textural and sculptural designs of the planting in the Exotic garden.  The Exotic garden is the smaller of the two gardens and contains plants from Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, Madagascar, the Canary Islands,  Australia and Mediterranean countries.  The plants are all from semi-arid climates like Morocco and are drought resistant to minimize the need for water.

Le Jardin Secret

Le Jardin Secret

The new pavilion was built on the foundations of an earlier structure but there was no evidence of the riad so the design is modern.  This pavilion provides the concealed entrance to the Islamic garden so you walk from a modern garden with dramatic shapes, texture and pops of colour through to an elegant, structured garden in calming shades of green accompanied by the calming sound of running water.

Le Jardin Secret

A spiky Ceiba tree from South America stands out against the slate grey backdrop of the modern reception building.

Le Jardin Secret

Le Jardin Secret

Le Jardin Secret provides insight into the design, beauty and symbolism of an Islamic garden, the lives of the wealthy in Marrakech in the nineteenth century and the development of Marrakech as a city. It delights with its contrasting courtyard gardens, juxtaposing traditional and modern planting schemes and old and new architecture. If you are planning to visit my advice is to get there early in the day so that you can appreciate the sights before the crowds arrive.


How To Find Le Jardin Secret

It can be difficult to navigate the labyrinth of alleys in the medina however, Le Jardin Secret is situated in Rue Mouassine, which is one of the larger thoroughfares.  It is not far from the Mouassine mosque and is opposite the Cafe Arabe so if you ask in the medina for either of those two landmarks you should find it.  I recommend visiting early in the morning and taking a guided tour.   If you are interested in gardens and gardening I also recommend Tom Stuart-Smith’s fascinating guide, which I have referred to for this post.