The city, which is the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, and often better known for its frustrating driving experience, was named the best place to drive in France - and 27th out of 100 in the world overall - after a study by German automobile site Kfzteile24.
The study took into account the price of petrol, the quality of the roads, the public transport system, the price of parking, the average speed between the centre of town and the nearest major airport, the pollution levels, the number of accidents and injuries on the roads, and the aggressiveness of drivers.
“We are used to being named as one of the towns with the worst traffic jams [but] this is the first time we have heard that it is good to drive in Marseille,” said a very-surprised Jean-Marc Zammit, director of the Provence automobile club, speaking to French news site 20 Minutes.
Twitter users also found the accolade difficult to believe, with many suggesting that the town was actually better-known for driver aggression and use of horns; a lack of indicating at roundabouts; traffic jams; and complaining.
A Marseille tu es obligé d'être aussi agressif et réagir à la seconde sinon tu te fais marcher dessus— MaXiMuS CU84 (@MaXiMuS_du13) April 6, 2017
Je hais les gens qui ne foutent pas de clignotants dans les rond point putain— Dive Hard (@ExplicitJohnson) April 6, 2017
“There is a real mismatch between the results of this study and the feelings of motorists,” added Zammit. “This region is where we spend the most amount of money on parking and insurance costs. This study might flatter Marseille but I am not sure that it translates into reality for drivers stuck in traffic every morning.”
In contrast, the study found that the top five cities to drive in worldwide were Dusseldorf, Dubai, Zurich, Tokyo and Basel, with Singapore, Vienna, Munich and Montreal not far behind. On the list as some of the worst places to drive were Istanbul, Mumbai, Ulanbaatar, Lagos, Rio de Janeiro, and Kolkata.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France