The street takes its name from the chains that were put up to block the way in case of trouble and to protect the market on the present Place de la Liberté from traffic. The name has remained, so one can imagine that the neighbourhood was often agitated.
The Rue de la Chaîne is the backbone of the entire north-western district of the spur. Serving a fairly steep relief, it combines charm and character, with its slightly sinuous layout, its narrow street fronts and the depth of its courtyards and interior gardens.
Before it was extended to the whole of the promontory of Poitiers, protection in the "safeguarded sector" essentially concerned this old district.
The street is lined with old houses dating from the 15th to 18th centuries, often with timber-framed walls visible from the street. Some old shops have kept their wooden stalls in front. One can admire the Hôtel Berthelot, a Renaissance-style mansion that the mayor of the town, René Berthelot, had built from 1529 onwards. Since 1953, it has been home to the Centre d'Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale (Centre for Higher Studies of Medieval Civilisation).