Author: Monique Smitsloo

Schmidt Optiek focuses on the health of your eyes

  Schmidt Optiek, the longest-running optician’s in the country, is the crown jewel among Amsterdam’s eyewear shops. Their store on Rokin opened its doors in 1868 and they’re rightly proud…


Schmidt Optiek, the longest-running optician’s in the country, is the crown jewel among Amsterdam’s eyewear shops. Their store on Rokin opened its doors in 1868 and they’re rightly proud of their status of purveyor to the royal household. Their second branch, located on Gelderlandplein, is frequented by Zuidas business professionals and local residents alike. The health of your eyes is in very experienced and capable hands at Schmidt Optiek and they offer a wide range of frames, with the spectacular customized glasses by Cartier or Dita – diamonds optional– topping off their collection.

Schmidt Optiek focuses first and foremost on your vision, but their varied range of frames guarantees you’ll look the part as well. Did you know that former Dutch Queen Juliana and her husband, Prince Bernhard, had their own drawer in the mahogany-clad Rokin store? And their branch on Gelderlandplein houses an even wider range of frames.

There is a dazzling display of correction glasses, reading glasses and sunglasses by brands ranging from Lindberg to Chanel. As fashion designer Coco Chanel famously put it: “The best things in life are free. The second best things are expensive”. This fits in with Schmidt Optiek’s vision: they focus on the health of your eyes and the medical aspect of your glasses, selling high-end fashionable frames comes second.

A nostalgic wink

The sleek interior of Schmidt Optiek in the Gelderlandplein shopping mall may be in stark contrast to their Rokin store, but the compartments in dark brown are a reference – a nostalgic wink – to the hundreds of mahogany drawers in their historic shop downtown.

The Schmidt Optiek branch on A.J. Ernstraat was established in 1968 and has much more floor space than their 150-year old store on Rokin. Edwin van Dijk is the eighth generation of store owners. His son, head of management Tijmen van Dijk, and marketing manager Jim de Vos tell us more about the company.

Measuring with a ruler

Jim: “I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say we have some of the country’s finest optometrists working for us. They measure your eyes and gather all sorts of information including the position of your pupil, the moisture balance and vision correction. They even use special tiny rulers! The whole procedure takes about an hour; after all, the health and condition of your eyes are very important. And if necessary, they’ll refer you to an ophthalmologist. To be honest, other eyewear stores don’t have sufficient knowledge as the only training their employees have had is a 3-month in-house crash-course. Here at Schmidt, however, we consider optometry a serious profession.”

“It takes years of studying optometry in order to be able to assess what pair of glasses will provide the right correction for someone’s eyes. And that’s absolutely crucial! To give an example: my mother’s eyesight deteriorated significantly as she was given the wrong prescription glasses after a measurement that hardly took 15 minutes – this was long ago, but unfortunately it is still more common than you’d think. We don’t want that to happen to our customers.”

Glasses as a piece of jewellery

Tijmen, a well-dressed young man, explains why glasses are so important for Zuidas professionals. “Eyewear is like jewellery to them; glasses are obviously more conspicuous than your shoes, watch or tie. And in our Gelderlandplein store that is a very important factor: the business customer is looking for a pair of glasses with a serious look, but what they really want is something that defines their identity and will make them stand out among all the other businessmen in their grey or navy corporate uniform.”

“The right pair of glasses enables business professionals to lend a subtle twist to their look: slightly different coloured arms, a unique positioning of the actual glass… Moreover, glasses are more than a fashion item: they can accentuate or mask certain facial features, so it is important to get the right type of advice on the aesthetic part as well. The more comfortable you feel wearing your glasses, the more confident you’ll appear.”

Futuristic innovations

Schmidt Optiek is a company of extremes as the difference between their stores on Rokin and Gelderlandplein shows. On the one hand there is the traditional craft and medical knowledge of the 150-year old company, on the other hand they’re offering the latest futuristic innovations in the world of opticians such as glasses with lightweight, fully flexible arms. Hundreds of labels, influencers on social media, rappers and models are keen to promote Schmidt’s eyewear.

Jim: “It is hard to imagine that not even that long ago glasses were regarded as ‘nerdy’, whereas these days eyewear represents something very stylish. And here at Schmidt Optiek we try to connect to that. It is exciting to bring a classic brand to the fore using modern marketing tools, with all the events and promotion activities that go with it.”


Schmidt Optiek

Arent Janszoon Ernststraat 569

T 020 644 2108


Rokin 72

T 020 623 1981




Schmidt Optiek recently acquired Reyer Lafeber opticians in Utrecht. In this wonderful eyewear store, Schmidt Optiek will focus on extending its range of products and services. In a pleasant and luxurious ambiance, Schmidt offers a wide range of eyecare and sells beautiful frames and sunglasses, as well as special collections. Buying a new pair of glasses will be a very nice experience in this wonderful new eyewear store. 


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‘It has only become more attractive, trendy and sociable here’

Lisette Vriend combines work and life at Zuidas. “Buitenveldert and Zuidas both have an atmosphere that suits me, and it has only become more attractive, trendy and sociable here.” If…

Lisette Vriend combines work and life at Zuidas. “Buitenveldert and Zuidas both have an atmosphere that suits me, and it has only become more attractive, trendy and sociable here.”

If you skip an Ajax football match to attend a community meeting, you can call yourself a proud Amsterdam-Buitenveldert local. Lisette Vriend feels at home in this neighbourhood. “Even grocery shopping is fun. I get in the elevator to enter the indoor shopping centre”.

Lisette tells me that “I was born in Aalsmeer. Even as a young girl, I was bored there. So later, I moved to Amsterdam and have never left. After college, I studied at Schoevers. For some time I had ambitions to be an air hostess, see the world, hang around pretty places for a while, it sounded nice… But I stopped dreaming eventually as life in the airline business is not as glamorous as it used to be. During that time, I realized I should do something else: sales. I proved to be good at it, and it made me happy. For a long time I worked at all levels of account management.”

Life just found a way

Lisette lives at Gelderlandplein and works around the corner, at Boelelaan, as an assistant/office manager at Vanderkruys. Vanderkruys is a recruitment firm for responsible positions in the public and private-public sectors such as the government, hospitals and universities.

“For a while, I had been looking for a job in the neighbourhood. I wanted to live and work here. At Zuidas, recruitment is a booming business, but this specific role suits me.”

Lisette calls herself an “all-rounder”. “I like to get everything thrown in my direction and take the lead. Especially for activities such as organizing events and planning meetings.”

What about women at Zuidas?

According to Lisette, we do not have to worry about the number of women working at Zuidas. “In prominent positions around here, you see women. As a matter of fact, there are more women than men at my office.

“I have lived in Buitenveldert for years now. I used to think it was a bit old fashioned. But not anymore, it has developed and it is now a super luxurious place to live. Buitenveldert and Zuidas have an atmosphere that suits me. It has only become more attractive, trendy and sociable. Here you can find everything you want and need, right at your doorstep.

“The international feel appeals to me. There are many nationalities and expats in our apartment building. In the evening there is a variety of smells coming from everyone’s different cooking habits.”

A proper lunch

“I like to have a good lunch, not grab a quick sandwich, but an extensive one, it might even take up the afternoon. With a lunch consisting of starters and a main-course, you do not need dinner at night.” She visits restaurants local restaurants a lot. “Ron Blaauw’s restaurants, as well as Het Bosch at Nieuwe Meer; all the typical hot spots for Zuidas people. And Aan de Poel in Amstelveen is a favourite as well.”

If it were up to Lisette, the only thing that would improve this new, glorious southern part of the A-10 would be if it were more car friendly.

“There are few parking options. If you don’t have a bike it is hard to get around. That proves to be annoying for people that do not live here. Oh, and a local cinema would be lovely. To go to see a film right now you need to take the tram into the centre. But really, what is that as a complaint?”

Skipping an Ajax match

Lisette and her husband love this neighbourhood, and won’t miss a community meeting here, even if Ajax is playing at the Johan Cruyff ArenA on that particular night.

“We think it is essential to be involved. We would not miss a community meeting for the world. We even skipped an Ajax football match for one once. Harsh, but that’s life. I do like to be in the ArenA, real fun! But to be honest, as it starts getting colder in the winter months, it is good to sit on the couch and watch the games at home.”








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Le Fournil de Sébastien for the perfect baguette

Once upon a time… there was a traditionally trained baker from France who fell in love with a Dutch woman. Soon after, Sébastien and Susan Roturier decided they wanted to…

Once upon a time… there was a traditionally trained baker from France who fell in love with a Dutch woman. Soon after, Sébastien and Susan Roturier decided they wanted to open the first French boulangerie in the Netherlands but the bank had no faith in their plan and refused them a loan. Still, they somehow managed to set up Le Fournil de Sébastien in 2007. And with instant success! Locals were queuing up from day one and the French bread and pastry were selling like hot cakes…

“That success was nice but the whole period was very tough!” Sébastien says. In the early days, he didn’t have any staff and he was working twenty (!) hours a day. And to make matters worse, the much-feared Dutch culinary critic, the late Johannes van Dam wearing his trademark dark suit and hat, dropped by. Van Dam was the self-proclaimed top culinary journalist in the Netherlands and had the reputation he could make or break a business. 

Van Dam was curious to see how they went about things in this popular bakery. Fortunately, he wrote a glowing review in the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool and overnight the bakery’s sales jumped by 30 percent. And now, more than ten years later, Sébastien employs one hundred people in his three Le Fournil bakeries in Amsterdam, Amstelveen and Hilversum. 

La douce France

Not that Sébastien really needed that review: the smell of freshly baked bread spreading over the Olympiaplein was already speaking for itself. These days, some customers even drive to Le Fournil from faraway places such as Apeldoorn to buy brioches and pains spéciaux with olives, apricots, figs or garlic. Usually, they also get themselves some macarons and lemon cakes – Le Fournil also sells excellent patisserie products. 

Sébastien: “It is just like in France: children running inside and climbing up the bench, peeking through the windows to see the bakers in action in the kitchen. I’m really happy with those windows as it allows the customers to see our craft but also how much work it actually involves…” 

We look into the kitchen and, yes, we see people being very busy, communicating in French as all the bakers at Le Fournil are recruited from France. 

Baguette as art

According to a recent episode of the Dutch TV programme Keuringsdienst van Waarde (‘Food Unwrapped’), only 1 percent of all Dutch bakeries actually make their croissants themselves. Sébastien: “That’s right: nearly all of these bakeries use semi-finished products and ready-to-bake mixes. But it shouldn’t be that way. To me, making baguettes and croissants is the toughest job there is as we do every step in the baking process ourselves. We only use a handful of basic ingredients: salt, sourdough… and the Tradition Française flour, of course.” 

This special flour is a nigh sacrosanct product imported from France. “The Tradition Française flour has to comply with very strict regulations and must be made without any ‘tricks’ such as bread improvers. This means the quality varies from year to year and we need to adapt to that.” Sébastien takes a baguette in his hand and says: “Look, this bread has a nice brown crust and inside it is soft and airy, totally different from the sponge-like French bread sold in supermarkets.”

“And don’t forget the aroma. To achieve that distinctive smell and taste, the dough needs to rise a long time: between 18 and 24 hours. So from two o’clock in the morning, there’s always someone keeping an eye on it. We don’t use any machines. It’s hard work but this is our craft and I’m really proud of it. Another big difference is that we only use liquid sourdough as that is better for digestion.” 

All-day croissants

“Most Dutch people – especially those living in Amsterdam-Zuid – are well-travelled and know a lot about different tastes,” Sébastien explains. “This is no longer a country of potato eaters. There are lots of delicatessen in town, with an abundance of French and Italian cheeses for sale. I like the fact that croissants are so popular over here. In France, we dip a croissant in our coffee in the morning or we eat them at breakfast on a Sunday, but the Dutch seem to be eating them all day. And I love it when they come back for a baguette in the evening. Thank heavens, more and more people know how wonderful a nice piece of bread tastes with dinner and a good glass of wine.” 

Sébastien firmly but politely declines catering jobs for hotel chains or other large organizations. And he also turned down the offer to become a member of the jury in the popular TV show Heel Holland Bakt (‘The Great Dutch Bakeoff’). “I really don’t want to become a showman or start a franchise. Three bakeries is more than enough. If I were to open a few more, it would be very hard to guarantee the same quality. The only thing I want to do is to raise the bar at Le Fournil and pass on my knowledge to the new generation of bakers. I didn’t invent the wheel, the old masters taught me their tricks of the trade. To me, that cycle should continue in order to keep our craftsmanship alive.”  




Le Fournil de Sébastien
Olympiaplein 119, Amsterdam
Amsterdamseweg 189, Amstelveen


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