The name Covent Garden is a corruption of the name 'Convent' of Abbey of St Paul. The Covent Garden of today is a big favourite with visitors, with its pedestrianised piazza, open-air cafes, stylish shops, markets and street entertainers. Charles Flower designed the Covent Garden's covered central market for fruit and vegetable wholesalers. The wholesale market has been relocated to the New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms. The pedestrianised Neal Street to the north, meanwhile is a street of former 19th century warehouses, converted into small art galleries, restaurants and shops selling a bizarre variety of stuff, ranging from oriental goods to kites.
The Covent Garden is also a heaven for the shoppers with High Street outlets including the Oasis, French Connection, Hobbs, Marks & Spencer, Mango and the like. The Neal Street also houses contemporary fashion outlets like the Office, Foot Locker, Size etc. To reach the Neal Street, you'll have to turn left from the Covent Garden Station, cross the road and then go around the side of Marks and Spencer. On the other hand, to get to the Covent Garden market, just turn right when you leave the station that leads straight to the Piazza and the Market Hall. Interestingly, in Victorian times, the Covent Garden was known for its 'gin palaces' and the area around the Seven Dials and St Giles was famous as a particularly wicked and notorious place.
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