Although a tremendous amount of work has been done these last years on the nitride semiconductor system, a lot is still to be understood regarding the growth mechanisms of GaN. The standard GaN MOCVD growth process includes the low temperature deposition of a nucleation layer, followed by an anneal at high temperature, and the GaN layer is then deposited. The number of process parameters which can be used to tune the growth is very large (temperatures, times, thicknesses, molar flow rates and ratios …) and, due to the coupling between them, the role of each one is not clearly understood. In this paper, we present systematic series of growth experiments, where in-situ reflectance monitoring was used and correlated to ex-situ optical characterization of the samples by photoluminescence at low temperature (2K). Here, we demonstrate that the nucleation layer and its annealing have a determining effect. The nucleation layer growth temperature was not found to be a very sensitive parameter, while the amount of re-crystallization is. Surprisingly, the amount of ammonia present in the gas phase has a determining effect on the recrystallization behavior of the nucleation layer. Another interesting point is the sensitivity versus growth temperature for the main GaN layer, which was found to affect the initial stages of the growth in a drastic manner when changed by only 5°C. In-situ reflectance allowed us to tune precisely our process and to obtain GaN layers with 500 cm2/Vs electron mobility at room temperature and photoluminescence fwhm of 1.7 meV at 2K for the donor-bound exciton.