Résumé : Suspended particles play an important role in coastal waters by controlling to a large extent the variability of the water inherent optical properties (IOPs). In this study, focused on the complex waters of the Southern North Sea, the relationships between the concentration, composition and size of suspended particles and their optical properties (light absorption, and attenuation in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions) are investigated. Over a one-year period, field measurements were carried out along regular transects from the Belgian to the English coasts to cover a wide gradient of water masses. Results show that the area can be divided into three geographical zones, each one having specific biogeochemical and optical properties: Scheldt coastal zone (SCZ), Middle of the Southern North Sea (MSNS) and Thames coastal zone (TCZ). Concentrations of organic (inorganic) particles were always higher in the SCZ (TCZ). The MSNS was characterized by a high proportion of organic particles in low concentration. The spectral shape of particle attenuation reveals a wide range from negative to positive slopes. Particle size distributions reveal a power-law shape along the coasts (especially in the TCZ) and a bimodal distribution in the MSNS notably during the spring phytoplankton bloom. This bimodal size distribution and more precisely a size peak around 7 μm results in an unexpected negative spectral slope of the particle attenuation coefficient. Variations in the particulate mass-specific IOPs between the three regions were observed to predominate over seasonal variations. The implications in terms of inversion of IOPs into biogeochemical parameters, such as chlorophyll a and total suspended matter, in coastal waters are discussed.