The story takes place in a small town named Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. It is told by the two protagonists: Vianne Rocke and Francis Reynaud. The first one is a woman who stopped in the town with her daughter Anouk. They travel all around the world, not staying anywhere for a long time. The second protagonist is a cure in the local cathedral.
Vianne, having come to the town at the Lent, starts to set up a chocolate café there. This, and the fact that she doesn’t go to the church, brings on the hostility of the fanatically devotional cure. But the woman doesn’t pay attention to him. She has in mind to stay here for as much time, as she wants.
The cure is angry. He isn’t used to that fact that somebody may contradict him. So, preaching at the church, he indoctrinates the citizens against Vianne. So, at first the woman doesn’t have clients at her shop. But the people are attracted to the unsurpassed fragrance wafting from the shop, and in some time, they start coming to the shop to drink some hot chocolate or eat dainty chocolate sweet. Vianne is a friendly, kind and sincere woman, so she finds a lot of friends among the citizens. She knows them: their problems, secrets, their characters.
Her daughter, like her mother, is also affable and cheerful girl, so she quickly finds new friends among the town’s children. But she has got used to be lonely for most of her time, and she has her imaginary friend – a rabbit Pantoufle.
Once Vianne sees among her clients an odd woman: she seems to hide behind others, creeps to one of the showcases and steals one of the sweets hand over fist. Later Vianne gets to know that it’s Josephine Muscat, her husband, Paul-Marie, runs the café in the town. Everybody knows her as a thief, but Vianne sees in her only a scared, ill-fated woman. She becomes her friend, and Josephine tells her that her husband is cruel and merciless man, that he beats and abuses her. Vianne says that the woman mustn’t suffer such treatment. Josephine listens to her, and in some time she comes to Vianne’s shop and says that she has got away from her husband and she is going to run to another town and start the new life. Vianne convinces her to stay in the town, live with her and help her in the shop. The town, the cure, Paul-Marie are awfully angry: the wife must live with her husband. But the woman doesn’t want to change her mind. In some time Josephine completely changes: she turns into a beautiful, uninhibited, confident woman.
Also there is an old woman, who often visits Vianne’s shop, Armande Voizin. She also doesn’t visit the church, mocks at the cure and the citizens, and doesn’t follow the Lent. She becomes friends with Vianne, they talk a lot, so, Vianne gets to know that the woman has a daughter and a grandson. The daughter is a pompous woman, who wants her mother to live at the Home for the Elderly. As for the grandson, Armande dreams to spend time with him, but her daughter doesn’t allow this. Vianne helps Armande and Luke (the grandson) here: they spend time in the café, while his mother is at the hairdresser’s or somewhere else.
The town is situated at the bank of the river, so once the gypsies come there on the rafts. The town doesn’t treat them well, except for Armande, Vianne and some other citizens. They spend much time together with them. Among the gypsies Vianne notices a man, who is, probably, one of the leading ones among the gypsies. His name is Roux. He often comes to the woman’s shop and Vianne notices that he and Josephine have some liking to each other.
Once, when the women and the gypsies had some kind of a party on the rafts, the Roux’s one started to burn. Roux couldn’t extinguish the fire. After that the gypsies went out of the bank and only Roux stayed to get to know who had burnt his home.
Once Armande’s daughter comes to Vianne and having a talk with her, tells that her mother has the serious problems with her health, and her mother must follow the special diet, where the sweeties are not allowed. Vianne talks about it with Armande, but she is a willful woman and says that she’ll do what she wants to do, and eat what she wants to eat. Once the old woman says that there will be her birthday soon and she wants to celebrate it well: to make a party with a lot of guests: she invites not only the citizens, but some of the gypsies as well. The party was a success: the atmosphere was fun and pleasant. Armande is happy to spend her birthday in this company. At the end Vianne and Roux stay alone to clean everything after the party. They spend a night together. The next day Armande dies.
As for Josephine, her husband’s character is unmasked for the citizens, when they see, how he beats her, when she comes to the bat to take her clothes. He is ordered to go away from the town. Josephine becomes the host of the bar, she renews it, Roux helps her there. Then they start to live together.
At the end of the story the cure wants to revenge Vianne for her “impropriety”, he decides to spoil all her chocolate goods. It’s worth saying, that he followed the Lent, he was eating only some lean food, and of course, he didn’t eat chocolate. So, he creeps to the shop at late night, but when he comes there, the flavour of the chocolate attracts him and he starts eating all that he sees there, and then he falls asleep in that heaps of spoiled chocolate, where he is found by Vianne in the morning.
In some time Vianne feels that a new life arises in her. She decides that her and her daughter time to go futher, to leave the town, has come.
During the whole story Vianne is full of predictions, she inherited the magic skills from her mother, she sees things that are the deep secrets of other people, for example, the cure has the father, who is in coma for a long time, and Vianne sees Reynaud by the bed of his father, etc.