The distribution of sole (Solea solea) eggs and larvae were described from two cruises conducted in April and May 1995 along the French coast of the eastern English Channel and the Belgian coast of the Southern Bight of the North Sea. Sole migration was investigated using larval stages and univariate spatial analysis as geostatistics (variograms). Important environmental parameters were selected by comparison with larval distribution. Path analysis was used to remove spatial correlation and to define links between abundance and environmental variables. Sole larvae were found to be coastal throughout their development. Strong links between larval distribution and environmental parameters were identified, particularly for the younger stages which were found in higher abundance in areas of high chlorophyll-a concentration. The association was not direct, suggesting that the larval spatial distribution was influenced by an undetermined, intermediate variable, such as larval prey. Sole larvae are retained in the coastal area throughout ontogeny despite the strong hydrodynamics which characterize the region. Larval distribution resulted from behavioural mechanisms as well as environmental influences.