North of Notre Dame Cathedral, Le Duan Boulevard runs between the Botanical Gardens and the grounds of the Reunification Palace. Known as Norodom Boulevard to the French, who lined it with tamarind trees to imitate a Gallic thoroughfare, it soon became a residential and diplomatic enclave with a crop of fine pastel-hued colonial villas to boot. Its present name doffs a cap to Le Duan, the secretary-general of the Lao Dong, or Workers Party, from 1959 until his death in 1986. Turn northeast from the top of Dong Khoi and the sense of harmony created by Le Duan’s graceful colonial piles ends abruptly with a number of brand-new edifices.

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