Solea solea

The sole is a flatfish that lives mostly near the seabed, it is a benthic species. It prefers uniform bottoms (fine sand, sandy-muddy or muddy).

The sole feeds preferably at night on small organisms found near the bottom (crustaceans, bivalve molluscs, fish). Resting during the day, it uses camouflage techniques to protect itself, changing its color according to its environment. It can grow up to 70 centimeters long and up to 2 or 3 kilograms.

Legally, the catch size is 24 centimeters, however, it is recommended to fish at 28 centimeters in the North Sea and 30 centimeters (more than 250 grams) in the Bay of Biscay. Below 24 centimeters, the sole is called "solette". Sole has a high market value.

In the natural environment, there are different species of sole: the common sole Solea solea, the Senegal sole Cynoglossus senegalensis, the blonde sole Pegusa lascaris and the partridge sole Microchirus variegatus.

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Les caractéristiques

  • Oval body and flattened on the flank
  • Pigmented dorsal side (mottling, dark spots) and the ventral side discolored
  • “Fringed" fins
  • Whole, tenderloin, ready-to-cook (gutted, peeled and headless) or "sole-portion"
  • Easy lifting of the fillet without leaving any bones
  • Pan-fried, poached, broiled or baked
  • Firm, fine and delicate flesh
  • Filleted, pinkish flesh
  • Low fat content


Sole is available all year round on the stalls, however, it is advisable to give the fish a resting period from February to April when it reproduces. During this period, the flesh is not as firm and delicate.
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Dans l'assiette

Noble fish par excellence, the sole is an inspiring dish in the kitchen. It requires little processing. The simplest is the best, fresh and fried in butter for example.
A little advice from a connoisseur, it is difficult to peel a sole that has just come out of the water, leave it in the cold for 1 to 2 days.
On a whole fish, the yield is 40 to 45% when filleted.

© Crédit photo : Alexandre Willaume - Chef of the restaurant Culinaire Bazaar

zones de pêche

The sole is found in the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters, as well as in the Marmara and Black Seas.

Management by means of TACs and fishing quotas has been introduced in European waters in order to preserve the resource. In 2019, 23,494 tonnes have been granted, including 5,705 tonnes for France.

Sole stocks in the North Sea, Western Channel and Bay of Biscay are now managed in a sustainable way. Notice that the management of the Bay of Biscay stock is good, the stock is under surveillance and is gradually returning to a comfortable level.

On the one hand, those in the Eastern Channel and the Eastern Celtic Sea and the Western Baltic Sea are in the process of rebuilding.

On the other hand, stocks in West Africa (Cynoglossus senegalensis) and the Irish Sea are in great difficulty.

Therefore, when buying soles from the first three areas mentioned above, you should give preference to soles from the first three areas and, if possible, to large size soles.

Techniques de pêche

Sole is fished mainly with bottom trawls or gillnets (trammel nets).

To date, the MSC label certifies four fisheries (one English, one Danish, one Dutch and one French).

As far as aquaculture is concerned, onshore sole farming is still underdeveloped. In Europe, Spain is developing a production of 850 tonnes.

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