In the south of France, Marc Palestro is a partner in the real estate agency of his father-in-law. A client calling herself Mrs Maldonato, who is interested in buying a large old house, intrigues him. He thinks she must be Cathy, his childhood sweetheart before his family fled Algeria in 1962. Memories of that time, both the horrors of civil war and the joys of adolescent love, grip him. When he offers Mrs Maldonato a lift, she takes a dip in the sea in her underclothes and then goes to a hotel room where the two make love.