At the heart of the town rebuilt after the World War II, the Place du Pilori (Pillory Square) refers to the site where condemned men were once exposed to the public prior to being executed. It was also called the Place du Martroy, which is a corruption of the Latin word martyretum which meant a place where punishments were carried out.
The pillory consisted of a movable pillar fitted with metal shackles which the arms and legs of the guilty party were placed in, and who was bound using chains. The person’s neck was enclosed in a tightly-fitting collar or collar shackle. The guilty person was obliged to turn around this pillar so that everyone could see him, and to allow people to recognise him and voice their complaints against him.
In Saint-Malo, the expression “faire le pilo” was also used to refer to arranging a rendezvous to find a soul-mate in this part of the town’s main road, between the Porte Saint-Vincent and the vegetable market.
All of this part of the town changed as the consequence of various fires which destroyed the thatched roofs in 1584, the wooden façades in 1661, and subsequently the new stone houses built in the 17th to 18th centuries were destroyed during the bombardments that occurred so the town could be liberated in 1944.
However, the architects drew inspiration from the classic lines of the town’s old architecture. The width of the streets was limited, the gradient was reduced, and irregularities in façades were reduced so that the rebuilt Saint-Malo would be evocative of the old town.