At the age of 20, an orphan, Valérie, quiets her restless desires by seeking the attentions of young men beyond the walls of the convent in which she stays. Caught and castigated by the nuns, she decides to flee the constricting confines of the life she leads and decides to seek the freedom that her youth and spirit require. A well-placed phone call brings the leader of a motorcycle gang to her rescue. Astride his roaring cycle, he breaks into the convent and, to the amazement and consternation of the nuns and the other girls, Valérie jumps onto the back and they leave in a thunder of exhaust.
Disappointed by her young rescuer, upon their arrival in the city she leaves him and takes up with a hippy group. Unsatisfied by this experience, she leaves them after realizing that her T-shirt and jeans are but another uniform of poverty she has exchanged for the one of the convent.
Attired modishly in a minidress, Valérie obtains employment as a topless dancer. In the meantime, while strolling in the park, she has met Patrick, a painter and François, his young son. The painter, a widower, is attracted to her and Valérie is impressed by his sincerity and his charm.
At the club, Valérie meets a certain girl called Andrée who offers to share her apartment — which she accepts. However, it seems they do not share the same desires. Andrée is a lesbian and Valérie resists Andrée’s attempts to seduce her. While Andrée has not yet given up her advances, she introduces her to Kim, a former dancer, who has entered a new career — prostitution.
Tired with dancing and unsatisfied with the financial return for this arduous trade, Valérie accepts Kim’s proposition to enter into prostitution as a means of acquiring the financial freedom for the liberty of spirit she seeks. During this time, while she is applying herself most energetically to her new found profession, she still sees Patrick, the painter she had met in the park. She has become so involved that she is now posing for him for a painting he wishes to make of her. They are happy and carefree during a four day holiday that Valérie spends with him and the little boy. Patrick begins to make plans for the future, François the son sees a new mother in Valérie. In the hopelessness and realization of an impossible situation, because of her chosen way of life, she abandons herself completely to the ultimate fulfillment of a new found sensation, the passion of being loved and to love in return.
Valérie is trapped. She faces the eventuality that Patrick might learn about her real life. Caught in her emotions towards him whose love she feels unworthy of, Valérie is compelled to leave him. During an exhibition of Patrick’s paintings in an art gallery where she meets one of her first clients, her decision is finalized. Realizing that it would be impossible to keep the truth from him much longer, Valérie bids Patrick a tender farewell while he is sleeping.
Not knowing the reason for her departure, Patrick tries to find her. He suddenly recalls strange remarks made at his exhibition by a friend of his. After seeing him — and having learned of Valérie’s way of life — he decides never to see her again.
In the meantime, in order to forget Patrick, Valérie has taken one more rendezvous. After a revolting and perverted experience imposed upon her by an old lecher, she tells her friend Kim of her desire to give up what has now become a degrading occupation and to leave the city forever.
Left alone, Valérie feels the emptiness of her life. As also does Patrick. As a last tribute to her love before leaving, she goes to the park where they had met. As usual, Patrick is painting. His son François however, noticing her walking away tells his father. Patrick dashes after her and they find each other again.