Tourist season is over, and the rain won't stop falling. It's time for the vacationing Parisians, Herman and his family included, to abandon their rural getaways in the countryside and return to normal life. But where has Herman's family gone? Concerned, he sets out into the oppressive rain and cold for news of their whereabouts. The community he encounters, however, has become practically unrecognizable, and his urgent inquiry, placed in the care of local officials, quickly recedes into the background, shuffled into a deck of labyrinthine bureaucracy and local custom. As time passes, Herman, wittingly and not, becomes one with a society defined by communal surveillance, strange traditions, ghostly apparitions, and a hospitality that verges on mania.