In a small French town, Germain (Gerard Depardieu), a nearly illiterate man in his 50s and considered to be the village idiot, takes a walk to the park one day and happens to sit beside Margueritte, a little old lady who is reading excerpts from her novel aloud. She's articulate, highly intelligent and frail. Germain is lured by Margueritte's passion for life and the magic of literature from which he has always felt excluded. As Margueritte broadens his mind via reading excerpts from her novel, Germain realizes that he is more of an intellectual than he has ever allowed himself to be. Afternoons spent reading aloud on their favorite bench transform their lives and start them both on a new journey-to literacy and respect for Germain, and to the deepest friendship for Margueritte.