Théodore, a veterinarian and mayor of a village situated in France's occupied zone during World War Two, has taken in Little Claude, a nine-year-old boy whose parents have been missing since the beginning of the war. Mademoiselle Lundi, the elementary school teacher, gets to know the Gypsies who have set up camp not far from there. They've come to do grape-picking in the region. A staunch humanist and republican, she arranges, with Théodore's help, for the Gypsy children to go to school.
Meanwhile, Little Claude strikes up a friendship with Taloche, a thirty-year-old Gypsy who is a child at heart and who never goes anywhere without his violin. But the identity controls imposed by the Vichy regime increase and the Gypsies no longer have the right to travel about freely: Théodore therefore allows them to settle on one of his plots of land. Their nomadic life becomes a sedentary one.
While the Gypsy children take Mademoiselle Lundi's classes, Little Claude is increasingly fascinated by the Bohemians' way of life - a world of freedom where children are king. But joy and carefreeness don't last long: the pressure from the Vichy police and the Gestapo intensifies and the threat of danger is constant. Just as they've been doing for hundreds of years, the Gypsies must once again set out down the road.