At the end of the 19th century, ice is more precious than gold. In the village of Signes, in Haute Provence, the master of the ice, Amédée Giraud, runs the Bastide Blanche with authority, respecting tradition. A merciless war pits him against the rich Jean Roumisse, a totally unscrupulous competitor.
To back him up, Amédée is counting on his only son, Justin, who is returning from seven years of military service. But Justin is on the run, hounded by the gendarmes. He has deserted his ship that was in quarantine in the harbour because of an infectious disease. He is obsessed with the idea of returning to Magali, his childhood friend.
In the last seven years, Magali has become the most beautiful girl for miles around. And even though they are not from the same social class, the two young people think of getting married. But Roumisse, who craves Magali, gets rid of Justin by betraying him to the gendarmes.
Amédée's only solution is to take his son's place and drive the heavy Bastide Blanche cart himself. A frantic race begins between him and his competitor on the steep mountain trails because the ice melts fast in the sun of Provence. And a serious accident occurs.
To visit Justin in prison, Magali reluctantly accepts an invitation to Roumisse's home where he steals a kiss from her. Justin manages to prove his innocence to the gendarmes and returns to the Bastide Blanche.
But old Amédée, now paralysed, doesn't forgive his son. Justin doesn't give in. He resumes the fight with Roumisse. His enemies are stronger than he is. He falls into a trap and is stabbed. Seriously wounded, he seeks refuge with Sandrine Nottel, a rich customer in Marseilles. Roumisse immediately provokes Magali's jealousy. The young couple falls out!
While the Ice War rages in Signes, Roumisse throws a party to impress Magali. Justin, jealous, creates a disturbance. Magali will never forgive him for this. All the same, she finds it hard to give into Roumisse who patiently bides his time.
Meanwhile, ignored by his father and rejected by Magali, Justin works on getting the Bastide Blanche up and running again. He also moves closer to Sandrine Nottel, his rich Marseilles customer, who is mistreated by her husband. He urges her to flee. The two young people fall into each other's arms.
But Nottel ends up finding out where his wife is hiding. Sandrine is forced to return him. Meanwhile, Roumisse, mad with desire for Magali, tries to take her by force. The young woman, in a state of shock, rushes to the Bastide Blanche where she is welcomed with open arms.
Roumisse, who regrets his deed, tries to win her back. In vain. The only solution: eliminate Justin. He denounces him to Nottel. Compromised in a murder organized by Sandrine's husband, Justin is obliged to flee again, with the gendarmes hot on his heels. Only Sandrine can help him prove his innocence. She doesn't hesitate. Thanks to her, Justin is able to trap Nottel.
But for the Bastide Blanche, it's too late. Amédée, dismayed by the accusation made against his son, sells his icehouses to Roumisse. Is this the end of the Bastide Blanche? A slim hope is provided by Magali. She introduces Justin to an eccentric scientist who is trying to develop a machine to make ice...
CO-PRODUCTION : FRANCE 2 / FRANCE 3 (1997)