Résumé: Understanding individual dispersion from offshore natal areas to coastal nurseries during pelagic larval life is especially important for the sustainable management of exploited marine fish species. For several years, the hatching period, the larval life duration, the average growth rate and the otolith chemical composition (delta C-13, delta O-18, Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca) during the larval life were studied for young of the year (YOY) of sole collected in three main nurseries of the Gulf of Lions (GoL) (Thau, Mauguio and Berre). We investigated the spatial variation in the origin of the sole larvae which colonised the nurseries around the GoL, and whether temporal differences in environmental conditions during this life stage affected growth and larval life duration. The hatching period ranges from October to March, depending on year and site. Average ages at metamorphosis varied between 43 and 50 days, with the lowest and highest values consistently found for Mauguio and Berre, respectively. Otolith growth rates ranged between 2.7 and 3.2 mu m d(-1), with the lowest values in Thau and Mauguio and the highest in Berre. Otolith chemical composition during the larval life also varied, suggesting contrasted larval environmental histories in YOY among nurseries. In fishes from Berre and Mauguio, larval life was more influenced by the Rhone River, showing consistently higher larval Ba:Ca ratios (10/23 mu mol mol(-1)) and lower delta C-13 (-6.5/-6.1 parts per thousand) and delta O-18 values (-1.6/0.1 parts per thousand) than for Thau (with Ba:Ca ratios < 8 mu mol mol(-1), delta C-13 similar to-2.3 parts per thousand and delta O-18 similar to 1.5 parts per thousand). Differences in larval otolith composition were observed for 2004, with higher Ba:Ca and lower delta C-13 and delta O-18 values than in the two other years. These differences were explained by changes in composition and chemical signatures of water masses after an exceptional flooding event of the Rhone River in late 2003. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.