Garris and Riton live in Marais, a quiet region along the banks of Loire river. Riton is afflicted with a bad-tempered wife and three unruly children. Garris lives alone with his recollections of World War I trenches. Their daily life consists of seasonal work and visits from their two pals: Tane, the local train conductor and Amédée, a dreamer and voracious reader of classics. Meanwhile, Garris is overwhelmed by an unspoken love for a housemaid in the town.
The couple of loveable ne'er-do-wells are characterized by freedom, brotherhood and corny slapstick. While the rich worry their days away, the children of the marsh drink red wine, catch fish and do odd jobs to stay afloat.