In 19th century Denmark, two adult sisters live in an isolated village with their father, who is the honored pastor of a small Protestant church that is almost a sect unto itself. Although they each are presented with a real opportunity to leave the village, the sisters choose to stay with their father, to serve to him and their church. After some years, a French woman refugee, Babette, arrives at their door, begs them to take her in, and commits herself to work for them as maid/housekeeper/cook. Sometime after their father dies, the sisters decide to hold a dinner to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth. Babette experiences unexpected good fortune and implores the sisters to allow her to take charge of the preparation of the meal. Although they are secretly concerned about what Babette, a Catholic and a foreigner, might do, the sisters allow her to go ahead. Babette then prepares the feast of a lifetime for the members of the tiny church and an important gentleman related to one of them.
A tiny hamlet in Jutland. Elderly sisters Phillipa and Martina (Bodil Kjer and Birgitte Federspiel) are the center of a bible group that still reveres the teachings of their late father, a devout and loving minister known throughout Denmark despite his poverty. Their dedication to him included turning down suitors in their youth who would have taken them away - one, a handsome soldier; the other, a famous opera baritone, Achille Papin (Jean-Phillipe Lafont). Many years later, the father is dead but the sisters carry on his work. The baritone sends them a French woman, Babette Hersant (Stéphane Audran) whose entire family has been killed in street rioting in Paris. She serves them for free for fifteen years, enabling them to better take care of the elderly and infirm. When Babette wins a small fortune in a lottery, the sisters think they are going to lose her, but instead their servant insists on preparing a celebratory dinner for their fathers birthday. The elaborate meal would be an extravagance in a four star Paris restaurant. Ascetic and god-fearing, the sisters and their flock of now-aged villagers are apprehensive about the decadence of it all ... and then the handsome soldier from years ago, now a retired general, becomes one of the invitees ...
- Stéphane AudranBabette Hersant
- Bodil KjerFilippa
- Birgitte FederspielMartine
- Jarl KulleGeneral Lorens Löwenhielm
- Jean-Philippe LafontAchille Papin
- Bibi AnderssonSvensk hofdame
- Ghita NørbyNarrator
- Asta Esper Hagen AndersenAnna
- Thomas AntoniSvensk Lieutenant
- Gert BastianPoor Man
- Viggo BentzonFisherman in Rowboat
- Vibeke HastrupYoung Martine