Near Crest, a half-hour drive to the south of Choranche, a reputed nursery named Rivière specializes in peonies (pivoines in French).
At this time of the year, bare-roots peonies can be purchased for planting. You have to order them by phone or Internet, indicating the precise varieties that you want, and there's a delay of a few days before the packages are ready. I ordered eight different peonies: four tree plants and four herbaceous plants.
Each plant is packaged individually in a sealed cellophane bag crammed with natural moss. This packaging enabled me to wait for the snow to melt at Gamone before starting to plant the peonies. Finally, I carried out the planting last Tuesday morning, in unpleasant cold and muddy conditions. But the pleasure of opening up each package and taking care of the precious plants compensated for the discomfort. Here's an unopened package:
When you slit open the cellophane, the contents emit a wonderful aroma of damp moss and wood.
Once the moss is shaken off, the moist bare peoney roots have such a delightful wine-hued aspect and vegetal aroma that you might feel like eating them. (Well, that's what I felt.)
I'll wait until spring before describing exactly what I've now planted at Gamone in the way of roses and peonies.