Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) lives in Paris, but spends most of her time lost in her own fantasies. Very shy, but with a very wild imagination, Amelie loves the simple pleasures of life: skimming stones over water, plunging her hand into a sack of grain, and cracking the top of her creme brulee with a spoon. When she finds a small box with an old photo hidden behind a tile in her bathroom, she decides she must find out whose it is. In achieving her quest, she realises the magnificent power one feels when you affect change in other people's lives.
As she can't change her own reality, to escape her own sorrow at being alone and without love, Amelie attempts to affect the destinies of people she interacts with by making small changes to the personal 'worlds' they've shown her. She attempts to make people fall in love, punishes a nasty neighbour, and gives new leases on life to both the lonely and the unloved. However, when it comes to the romantic French idea of finding her own true love, Amelie has much more trouble winning the heart of Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), a young Parisian who happens to work in a sex shop and whose hobby is collecting other people's discarded passport photos.