A short, narrow road, in 1282 it was first opened by the Knights Templar as the Rue Richard-des-Poulies. Soon afterwards a wealthy man Jean Portefin built a private mansion there and its name was changed to Portefin, and in the 17th century to Portefoin.
No. 17 is the house where Honoré de Balzac lived in 1819, just up the road from Madame de Berny, his mistress at No. 3. Shown on the left of the Google Streetview image above, No. 17 became the agreed meeting place of the French Socialist Unity Committee after the Second Unity Congress held in the Salle Wagram in September 1900.