The retired courtesan Léa has begun an affair with Chéri, the son of her best friend Madame Peloux. Madame Peloux jealously waits for the affair to run its course, but when their relationship shows no signs of ending she arranges a wealthy match for Chéri. Chéri takes his leave of Léa, who accepts his leaving but is devastated.
Six months later, Chéri returns, realizing that with Léa he had found true love. The morning after, he finds himself repulsed by Léa’s aged body, and leaves her again. World War I breaks out, and years later Chéri returns an uninjured war hero. He is still unable to forget Léa, but she has moved on.