Perrine travels across Europe with her mother, a photographer, in a cabin drawn by a donkey. They are heading to a small village in northern France, the home of Perrine's dead father.
Perrine doesn't know that they are unwanted in the village; Perrine's father left the village after having quarrelled with his father (Perrine's grandfather) and married in India against his father's will. After her mother falls ill, Perrine has to sell everything, including her beloved donkey Palikare, to pay for medicine.
Mother dies in Paris and before dying tells the girl that she has to make her grandfather love her before he knows who she really is. After a journey full of hardships, Perrine finally arrives in the village where she learns that her grandfather is the rich owner of the factory that feeds all the villagers.
Presenting herself under a false name, Perrine gets a job on the factory, searching for a way to the heart of her grandfather.